This is the same question that the author of Why Mars and Venus Collide, Dr. John Gray, answered in his book. According to him, some people simply command attention. He says that being heard involves a whole other dimension of skill set that, and it begins with developing certain traits. Here’s a few tips.
1. “Would you be open to my perspective?”
When you speak, do people look away? This may be because they interpret your words more as a criticism than as help. First, try asking the person: “Would you be open to my perspective?” It implies that it’s just your perspective, not the absolute truth. And, it allows the person to make a choice as to whether or not they are ready and interested in hearing it.
2. Adjust your communication style accordingly.
Do you notice the attention of people slipping away as you talk? Some of them may even start dozing off to sleep. Maybe that’s because your communication style doesn’t fit the learning style of your listener. Some people prefer a narrative or storytelling style that appeals to their emotions, while other would want you to get straight to the point. You might also want to adjust your speed; switching from fast to slow, soft to louder, wakes people up and includes more styles of learning.
3. Begin with the end in mind.
Have you ever shared your problems and your frustrations, and your listener seems uninterested? That’s because people respond differently to disclosure of problems. While women are generally more sympathetic, men may be less so. Also a person’s cultural background may effect their comfort levels of this type of listening. Sharing one’s problems is definitely a way to reduce stress and ease one’s burden, but maybe check in first and get their permission. Tell the person what type of listening what you want, and see if it will work for them. Reassure them that they can gracefully bow out, if necessary.
4. Be a good listener.
Has it occurred to you that you might not be a great listener yourself? Do you tend to do the majority of the talking and then tune out when the other person talks? Some people feel uncomfortable with silence so keep talking to fill the gaps. Maybe they come from cultures where that’s the norm. They interrupt and talk over top of each other, like some New Yorkers. In other cultures that’s considered rude, like perhaps in British or Japanese culture. If you are an enthusiastic talker, try pausing and checking in with the other person. Then sometimes that encourages your listeners to feel they are part of a two-way experience, and start listening to you as well.