Think about how many times and in how many situations you or someone else has raised the issue that the person or people being spoken to aren’t really listening to what is being said:-

o A parent talking to their child
o A boss talking to a subordinate
o A teacher talking to a student
o A wife talking to her husband (or vice versa)
o A teenager talking to his/her parents
o A coach talking to an athlete (and vice versa)

Apart from getting your nose out of joint because it seems rude; apart from thinking, ”Can’t they concentrate or focus for more than one minute other than thinking, ”Why don’t you understand the simplicity of what I am saying?” …

Do you ever stop to really consider why someone or anyone doesn’t hear what you have to say? Do you, even for one minute, consider that the problem maybe more than, “They are lazy”; “They can’t understand basic instructions” or ”They are unable to maintain a focus for too long.”

Believe it or not, the reason they sometimes don’t listen to you is because of you! -- in some cases indirectly, and in other cases directly.

Let’s take a look at few examples so you can get your head around the fact that sometimes people don’t listen to you because of you.

Indirect Factors:

1. Venue.
Make sure the venue is appropriate to the type of conversation: a venue they are comfortable in. Lessen the opportunity for distractions by making sure there is no excessive noise or not too many people around and not too many other things to take their focus away from the conversation you are having.

2. Comfort Level
It is not too hot or cold and there is plenty of natural light and comfortable seating. It is a comfortable, appropriate environment for all parties (i.e. not your office), and no one is worried about being seen having the conversation.

3. Appropriate time.
Don’t have important but impromptu conversations when they should be going to lunch, when they should be heading home, or when they have something else important to attend to.

4. Mindset alignment
Don’t miss the cues that tell you that their mindset and focus are a long way from where they need to be to take in what you are telling them.

5. Are they ready?
Are they perhaps sick, tired, bored, angry, distracted, unmotivated or busy.

6. Synchronicity
Is what you will talk about a long way removed from where they see themselves or how they see the situation? Does it contradict their beliefs in a major way? Is it in contrast to their personal values?

7. Their belief --
In themselves, their skills, the topic, and the significance of their role.

8. Who is the King of the Castle?
Is there an ego-based battle (about who is better) between you and the person you want to talk with? Is there is a battle for position, for respect, for power? If so, you can bet your bottom dollar that one of the consequences will be a reduced level of listening

9. Is the foundation there?
Have you developed a platform off which to launch your communication interaction? Do they understand you well enough to listen to what you have to say? Is there an appropriate relationship between both parties? Have you built a certain level of rapport?

10. Do you value what they have to offer in terms of --
Time, position, experience, feedback, point of view, insight? Show them that you value what they have to offer and that you are genuinely thankful that they have given you their time to listen.

Direct Factors:

1. Communication Style
You are talking down to them. You are talking in a way they do not understand. You are invading their personal space. Your speech is faster than they can listen to and comprehend. The vocabulary you use is a little distant to them. You are too loud, too aggressive.

2. Level of Respect
When they have spoken to you, did you listen for understanding or clarification; or did you only listen to the point where you could refute what they were saying?

3. Repetitive Boredom
You don’t bring anything new to the communication process. Same dialogue, same tone, same stories, same time.

4. Levels of distraction
You continue to do things that make it hard to focus on what you are saying such as reading emails, scratching your neck, looking around as you speak or answering your mobile phone. Your words and your body language send conflicting signals.

5. Perceived effort
How hard is it to listen to you? How hard is it to have a conversation with you? How much do you listen to what they are saying? How much do you show that you understand where they are coming from?

6. Have you taught them how?
One of the key reasons why someone doesn’t listen is he or she doesn’t know how. Many people know how to hear, but very few know how to listen. Take the time to teach them or to get them to learn to listen, as no doubt it will help both you and them.

7. Have you given them reason to pay attention?
WIFM. (What’s in it for me) Straight to the point. Quality content. A quick game is a good game. You have done your research. Presented well. Not wasting their time

8. Is it true?
In the past, have you expanded, changed, reinvented, slightly adjusted, or maligned the truth? Well even if you have only to the smallest degree, is this reason enough for them now not to want to listen to what you have to say?

9. Your level of Interest
You provide cues that show your level of interest, commitment and focus: eye contact, smiling, verbal cues, nodding of the head, body language.

10. The Boxing Match
Every time they have ever raised a point or asked a question, you have taken it as a personal attack and so have responded in a certain way. By passing judgement on them and their ideas, you have responded in a criticising manner. People will only listen when they feel comfortable that it is a two-way conversation and their response will be given due respect.

As always, there will be no simple answer as to why people don’t listen to what you are talking to them about. But as we have outlined, there are things both direct and indirect that you could consider to help you get your message across.

Is it a bit of work? Most definitely. But it all comes down to what is important: the amount of work you have to do or the amount of what is heard, understood and acted upon appropriately?

The Journey Continues!

Author's Bio: 

Bill Nelson is an elite international sporting coach who has turned his knowledge of developing peak team and individual performance into a world-class corporate consultancy, Total Performance Concepts Pty Ltd.

Bill’s wisdom on the science of motivation, performance coaching and team building has been utilised by business organisations, defence forces, the real estate and telecommunications industries, educational institutions, local government, numerous businesses and elite sporting programs throughout the world.