What to do when no one is listening to me?
A stench of stale air, fermented socks and BO hit her in the face as the teenager emerged from his room. His eyes were glazed, head down, earphones on. She heard herself sigh. For the fifth time, she attempted to open a conversation with her son.
- She had tried knocking at the door (no answer)
- And another knock (this time she went in)
- Then a friendly smile and a sweet short hello “How was your day?” (no answer)
- Pausing then asking “Can I make you some dinner?” (silence )
- She asked him, “Can I open the windows?” (still no answer)
Then she raised her voice and asked, ‘Are you listening to me?’
If she could measure blood pressure at the precise moment, she was sure it would be way over the healthy mark.
Are you feeling unheard?
You feel that something is missing. You might catch yourself daydreaming about finding a regular babysitter or someone to help once a week with housework—anyone to help you with supporting your life. There’s just too much, and you are getting lost under the weight of it all.
Perhaps working from home has left you feeling very solitary. It has been a while since you regularly had the chance to have a dialogue with someone.
The use of electronic devices at work or home means there are even fewer opportunities to enjoy a great conversation with the people around you. You’re together but separate. Everyone’s so busy and distracted. You don’t feel able to say that you feel overwhelmed or lost.
Perhaps the people you live with or your colleagues feel the same way.
Listening and speaking have a circular relationship.
The healthiest communication style is to have a dialogue. Dialogue is a two-way collaborative or cooperative exchange of words. It’s there to build relationships.
Speaking is essential; human beings have been doing this for the last 100,000 years or so. Way longer before people started to write and read. Speaking changes lives inspires people, enables you to make a difference in the world.
Speaking is compelling but let’s not forget its partner: listening. Often people think it’s a linear line. You speak, and a person hears.
But in fact, the relationship between speaking and listening is a complex one, and it’s circular.
The way you speak affects the way a person listens.
The way you speak affects the way a person speaks.
The way you listen affects how a person attends the dialogue. This is the essential part.
If you want to be heard, you need to be a good listener. The doorway to intimacy is through listening, and intimacy requires careful listening. It’s super hard to persuade people if you don’t understand them. Any great salesperson will tell you that one of the most critical parts of getting the sale is listening to the person you want to sell to.
Listening can help protect against cognitive decline.
I recently read a World Economic Forum article which said research suggests that listening helps protect people. Having someone who listens to you in your later life may, according to this article, help with cognitive decline.
If we want our parents or grandparents to remain fit surely we need to spend time listening to them. How are you going to ensure that you and they have this opportunity? What about making sure you are listened to in the future?
Making room to listen
What could you do to create more two-way dialogues in your life?
- At home, could you have a time when you agree to turn off all devices?
- At work, could you have meetings without an agenda?
- If you’re working online, could you create opportunities for ‘water cooler moments using video conferencing?
- Could you arrange to go for a walk with a friend?
As long as we continue to live super busy lives, remain attached to our laptops or phones and have fewer people around us who listen, we risk many things. Burning out is at the top of the list.
When was the last time you heard someone ask or caught yourself thinking or asking: Are you listening to me?
If you feel that no one is listening to you at the moment and want to take action, please get in touch with me, and we can have a discovery call.