Five elements that help people to listen to you
If you want people to listen when you speak, here are a few small things that grow into more important factors when you want to capture the respectful attention you deserve.
The first is the sound of your voice. Maybe you never really thought about the way you sound. In actuality, it is difficult to know what you sound like to others because of three bones in your ear that tend to distort the sound you hear in your head. Almost every client I have worked with swears it does not sound like them when they hear their own voices played back in a recording. However, chances are the recording sounds much closer to the way others hear you than you recognize.
Although we open our mouths and speak without much thought for the way we sound, your voice has the power to attract or repel people and opportunities. High-pitched and nasal got the top vote when researchers polled for the most annoying voice types. However, these are not the only voice characteristics that can detract from your message. Voices that are too soft, too loud, too fast, monotone, too breathy, choppy and unclear can be difficult to listen to and serve as a distraction. Check your voice and get feedback from others. Are you easy to listen to?
The second element is the quality of your speech. Take an inventory of the way you speak; is your speech formal or informal, appropriate or colloquial? Remember, everyone communicates and someone who can only speak using slang words or a specific dialect may create a perception that causes others to put you in a box. Your speech may also include poor diction or incorrect grammar, which certainly does not serve anyone who is looking to be viewed as someone who is credible.
Body language is the third element worthy of your attention. Learning to use body language that is open and trustworthy is very important, because though few people study body language, we inherently decipher it subconsciously.
Your word choices comprise the fourth element. The difference between one who sounds like a polished professional and a struggling amateur can be found in the choice of words. I am not suggesting using big words that others do not understand, quite the contrary. If people do not understand you, it defeats the purpose of communicating. However, would you feel more comfortable with a nurse that says, “I am going to stick you with this needle” or “I am going to insert this needle”?
The fifth and maybe most important element of communication that plays a huge role in helping people to listen to you is your mindset. Why? Because your subconscious thoughts seep through your pores and it is what people feel when interacting with you. If you believe you will be treated unfairly, it will manifest in your tone, body language and word choices. If you believe you are worthy people feel that too.
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• Kim Welcome is the chief executive officer and founder of Influential Voice. She assists businesses and professionals to develop deliberate, skillful, polished communication skills to increase their impact and influence. Her clients range from the country’s largest and most prestigious employers to public figures and individual professionals. Feel free to contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.