Why doesn’t anyone listen to me? It’s a question we may have asked ourselves or heard often enough. It’s not, however, a question we often search an answer for.
Feeling ignored is horrible, and it’s always uncomfortable to reflect on what we may have done wrong to cause others to tune us out. But there is great value in doing so.
Because he doesn’t respect you
We all want respect, but it’s no cereal box freebie. Of course, for the most part, we treat others respectfully. We hold doors open. We say good morning. We nod politely when we’re told that little Johnny won gold in the egg and spoon race. Being respectful isn’t the same as holding respect and admiration for a person. Respect is not guaranteed, and it’s not a right of passage. Respect is earned. When you earn someone’s respect, that’s when people listen.
There are always murmurs of gender or age bias whenever someone says that they don’t feel respected. In some instances, it may be true, but for the most part, that’s an easy excuse to shift the focus away from what you’re not doing to gain respect. You don’t have to be a war veteran or an Olympic power lifting mother of five to be respected.
Before anyone can respect you, you need to respect yourself. How you act and the way you dress sends a message to the world about how you want to be treated. Taking pride in your personal packaging makes all the difference. Scrubbing up is a small effort that creates a big impact.
Commanding respect requires you to stand up for your beliefs and true feelings. You’ll need to be prepared to rock the boat and be an independent thinker. Following everyone else when you don’t agree, is not going to get you anywhere. Speaking up, raising an issue or providing a different perspective on a subject is valuable. It makes others listen.
Respect can be gained by working through difficult problems or situations. Using your initiative to approach issues and problems, will demonstrate your ability to take control and act independently. You don’t necessarily have to solve every issue that comes your way because sometimes it’s out of your hands. Instead, approaching your boss with a problem together with your proposed solutions, shows that you can think for yourself, and a willingness to give things a go. There is no shortcut to gaining someone’s respect. It’s a process and starts with using initiative and being proactive.
Because you’re a whiner
Whining has taken on a whole new trend of its own. We’re seeing an increase in amateur league moaners in the workplace. It has become a competitive sport for many. It is only a matter of time before FitBits install a whining calorie counter. Nike may even release a new clothing line to ensure whiners are wearing the most comfortable attire to complain in. The price will also provide them with new old topics to grumble about.
Whining is the only sport that not only tests endurance but also tests how much competitors can shift their problems onto others. As it is no longer politically correct to tell your colleagues to shut that damn mouth or Imma put a cap in yo’ ass, the ‘whining epidemic’ has spread contagiously. Eye rolling and asking your colleague to kindly quieten down, does not have the same effect.
Many have not noticed that bosses don’t like to participate in such social sports. Your boss is likely to ignore all prospective Olympic Whining Champions. This could be because running a company creates more serious problems than the price of petrol these days, or having nowhere to dry washing in the afternoons. If these sorts of complaints are brought up on a daily basis, it doesn’t say much about the individual’s ability to cope with bigger problems or focus on more important tasks at hand. If you are starting to recognise yourself as a bit of a whiner, people will assume you don’t have anything substantive to say, so they’ll put you down as background noise.
Employees with a tendency to complain and constantly present trivial problems to the boss are perceived as a hindrance, not a help. Next time you have something to complain about, consider how serious your complaint is before you word vomit on your colleagues, or approach your boss. The boy who cried wolf learned the hard way.
Because you speak before you think
We all know someone who needs no invitation to talk about the most intimate details of their personal life, just to fill a natural pause in a conversation. An information overload of babble causes us to tune out.
There is a reason most people do not read entire Encyclopaedias. This is usually because when people do use an Encyclopaedia, it is to read about a specific topic of interest, such as the years Joseph Stalin headed the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It makes sense that we don’t also read: medieval history, breeds of dogs, the Queen’s Jubilee, the origins of World War II, and how babies are born. Similarly, when asked how are you?Avoid the temptation of running through the key events in your life that lead you to how you are today, including the challenges you faced when online dating in prison. Cutting to the chase of what you’re saying saves lives. If you’re notorious for providing a 10-minute introduction to a simple yes or no question, your audience is likely to miss the answer – because they’ve fallen asleep.
The timing of your message is just as important as the content. Everyone has experienced how frustrating it is being in the middle of something urgent, only to be interrupted by a hyperactive adult telling you about a difficult client, or asking your opinion on whether they should dress as Harry Potter or Dumbledore for their niece’s christening. Think about this before you burst into your boss’ office in an anxious frenzy: is now really the best time to tell her all the reasons why deserve a pay rise, if she’s on the phone?
Talking for the sake of talking becomes background noise. You’re far more likely to be listened to if you’ve thought about when and what you’re communicating, and haven’t just fired off like a jack in the box on acid. Practicing vocal discipline will mean talking less, but being listened to more.
A lack of respect, whining or compulsively talking are not the only things that stop people listening to us. However, it’s not all self-blaming doom and gloom. We listen to what we’re interested in. We listen to what’s relevant. And we listen to what’s important (sometimes). Therefore it’s matter of recognising what we’re doing to cause others to disengage. Practicing the art of confident and independent solution-orientated opinions is sure to lend a few ears.