Getting People to Listen to You
by Ron Kurtus (9 February 2002)
Everyone wants to have others listen to what they have to say. Other people will listen if it appears you have some interesting, valuable or important information to convey. They will also consider the source of the information and whether there is a possible or promised reward for listening.
To get people to listen, you must have something to say or be able to provide some motivation for them.
Questions you may have include:
- What is interesting or valuable information?
- What sort of rewards would cause someone to listen?
- How do you provide what they want?
This lesson will answer those questions.
Types of information
People will listen to what you say, if it is interesting, valuable, important or useful to them. Obviously, if you provide boring information, they will quickly tune out.
Interesting information is something that you might want to know about or that may be amusing, entertaining or clever. It may be about the other person or something in which he or she is involved. Often, clever or unusual information is considered interesting.
Most people like to talk and hear about themselves or their interests.
Information that is valuable would be something that might result in personal gain for the other person. For example, you might tell another person, "I have some valuable information concerning the stock market."
A salesman may often have supposedly valuable information on how you can save money by buying his product.
Information that is important is something that it vital, critical or highly desired. It is information that if not heeded or received can result in negative consequences.
Examples of important information might be that you need to go to a meeting at 10:00 AM at work or that you left your car lights on.
Useful information concerns what you can use or apply. For example, someone might tell you a good way to prevent squirrels from getting in the bird feeder.
Useless or boring information is often things about another person or some subject about which you don't care.
Sources of information
The source of information determines whether or not a person will care to listen to it. If the person seems to be a viable source of important, useful or valuable information, you will tend to listen to it. If the person seems to have little creditability, his talking may go on deaf ears.
You often will listen to relatives, friends and acquaintances because of the social understanding that they will--in turn--listen to what you have to say. It is a fair exchange, usually not having to do with content.
People who have good voices, charisma or are animated are often listened to as being interesting or entertaining.
People with wealth and power will usually be listened to, because of their social position and ability to reward or punish, even if what they say is drivel.
You will listen to you boss talk about his personal experiences, even if they are boring, because you don't want to offend him.
If you can't reward another person, you sound boring or give the impression of not being worthwhile, other people often will not listen to the information you may have to give.
Getting people to listen
There are a number of things you can do to get people to listen to what you have to say.
Make a strong impression
Probably the most important thing to do in trying to get other people to listen to what you have to say is to make an impression of being a good source of interesting, useful, important or valuable information. This means that you should make sure what you say is worthwhile.
Know subject and person
You must also know whether your information is important, valuable or useful to the other person. You really have to know what the other person likes for you to pick an interesting topic.
Some people use qualifiers before they speak. They can be effective in getting and keeping attention:
"This is real interesting. The paper says a man bit a dog."
"I've got some information that should be valuable to you. They're hiring a McDonald's."
"Quite please. This is important. Everyone must remain in their seats until the bell rings."
"Here's some information that should be useful to you. You can stop fish from smelling, by clogging up their noses."
On the other hand:
"Let me tell you about all the problems I've had throughout my life. First of all, 10 years ago..." Boring!
Be rich and beautiful
Obviously, if you have money, fame, good looks or such, people will tend to listen to you more than to the average person.
People will listen if you have some interesting, valuable or important information to say or if you are consider a source possible rewards. To get people to listen, you must have something to say or be able to provide some motivation for them. You can also use qualifiers to get their attention.
Do the best you can
Resources and references
Questions and comments
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Getting People to Listen to You