Magazine article Work & Family Life

Getting People to Really Listen to Your Message

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Getting People to Really Listen to Your Message

Article excerpt

Ours is a world of virtual meetings, greetings, talks and research-and we're good at it. We can accomplish so much by tapping in quick messages, sending email and doing online searches. But we expect speedy answers, which has made us impatient, and we are constantly competing with technology for people's attention.

What used to be accepted ways of imparting information (talking, narrating, explaining) are no longer our first choice. This is a real challenge at the workplace and at home as well because there are times when we really do need someone to listen to us and stay tuned to what we are saying about a new product or service or how to perform a specific task.

What makes people listen

How do you decide whom to call back or what to do over the weekend? Think about it. If you eliminate the things you do for purely altruistic reasons or because you absolutely must, most of us make decisions based on personal wants and needs: Is it important to me? Do I want to do it? Will it be fun? Worthwhile? So, if you really want people to listen to you, it helps to tap into their self-interests.

Finding out what someone cares about on the job is not as hard as you might think. It begins with a recognition of what we all have in common: the desire to feel secure, competent, effective and on the move. We want to learn new skills to make our work easier and more efficient. Chances are, we would also like to increase our understanding of what it takes to get along with others.

Just look at what you share with your coworkers: a common workplace culture, the mechanics of getting things done, an awareness of people's habits and interests and an understanding of the issues your company or department faces. Tap into all of this information.

Let coworkers or clients know that what you have to say fits their needs, concerns and desire for information, guidance, or getting whatever it is they want. But just telling someone "this will be good for you" or "you should do this" almost never works.

Who's doing the telling?

"Paying attention to just anyone is not something most of us do willingly," says Sonya Hamlin, author of How to Talk So People Listen: Connecting in Today's Workplace. …

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