Have you ever struggled with being heard? There are times when I explain myself but it’s clear that the listener doesn't understand. Sometimes I speak louder or faster, thinking that will work. Other tactics include manipulation, emotion, anger, regurgitating the same explanation, or stomping off in a frustrated huff. Why won’t they listen to me?!?
What is it?
Recently I was in a conversation where I felt I wasn’t being heard. After multiple attempts to explain myself and gain understanding from the listener, I gave up. There were just no more words I could say to help bring about understanding. Was that it? My lack of the right words? If I were more cleaver or charming, would I be able to make my point clear? Or was it a lack of trust? Is it that my listener doesn’t trust my words? Maybe it’s because I had broccoli stuck in my teeth and my listener was distracted.
Their mind is made up
What I’ve come to realize is that if the person I’m talking to has already made up their mind that I have nothing to say, . . . I have nothing to say. They may have decided that I have nothing to tell them that they don’t already know. Or it could be that because of past conversations, they're tuning me out. Whatever the case, if they've decided I have nothing to say, . . . I have nothing to say. To utter any more words is a waste of our time. I could be Einstein explaining the Law of Relativity, but if they believe I have nothing to say, no new concepts will enter their minds.
What to do
Have you been frustrated that you aren’t being heard? I sure have. My new tactic is to stop trying so darn hard to be heard. If someone wants to hear from me, they’ll ask! If they don’t ask, it certainly won’t be the end of the world. It's not worth wasting their time and mine if my words are falling to the ground between us.
The next time you feel frustration with not being heard or understood, step back and listen. Ask a question instead of trying so hard to be heard. I play a little game with myself called, ‘let them have the last word’. It’s an exercise in personal discipline.