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Speak So Others Listen

Tried and Tested Ways of How to Speak so Others Listen

The world can be a tough place and one of the hardest battles every person has to fight comes from wanting to be heard. We all have something to say and we all want a chance to make our voices count, but standing out from the crowd can be a daunting challenge. This article, how to speak so others listen, aims to make this challenge less daunting.

Whether at work, school or even in your home life, it’s important that people give you the space to be heard, but our self-centred nature makes it unlikely that you’ll get that opportunity without actively working on your communication skills.

Here are some tried and tested ways of how to speak so others listen, so you can go from fading into the background to taking centre stage.

Speak So Others Listen Tip No.1 – Check Your Tone

Most communication is nonverbal, not verbal. It’s not so much what you’re saying, but rather how you say it. Many people are tone-deaf to their own style of speech. If people tend to dismiss you while you talk, or act in an antagonistic way, it might be that your tone rubs them the right way. Pay attention to how you tend to phrase things and honestly ask yourself if it could be offensive, or problematic in some way.

Even if you have a strong opinion or know that you’re right about something, and are trying to be helpful, being diplomatic and unthreatening can go a long way to getting your message heard. The alternative is to be ignored as people recoil from your apparent lack of sensitivity.

Speak So Others Listen Tip No.2 – Check Your Speech

Speaking well isn’t just about phrasing things the right way, it’s also about mastering the mechanics of speech. These are some of the easiest skills to learn, with just a little practice and mindfulness every time you have an opportunity to talk.

It’s very important that you speak clearly. Pronounce your words carefully so that people don’t have to spend time decoding what the actual words are. Pay attention to your vocal register as well. Aim for the mid level of your vocal range. Some people tend to speak with a high pitch, especially when excited, but most people find shrill speech unpleasant.

Make sure you put the right amount of volume in your voice. Not only does this make you seem more confident, it means that everyone who you want to hear you, can do so without straining or confusion.

Pause at the right times. Punctuate your speech, verbalise commas and periods where they would have happened in written communication..

Slow down! Don’t go a mile a minute. Give people a chance to process what you’re saying.

Speak So Others Listen Tip No.3 – Check Your Style

Don’t just talk at another person. Pay attention to their reactions and behaviour. If you see them lose interest in what you’re saying, actively try to figure out why. Pay attention to the way that they like to communicate. Do they speak slowly? Do they mostly talk about the way things make them feel or think? Try to appraise their overall communication style, and then attempt to match it. If you do it right, (and it takes practice) the other person should become more engaged with you.

Speak So Others Listen Tip No.4 – Check Your Listening

Ironically, the most important speaking skill, is listening. Take a genuine interest in what other people are saying. Think about what your conversational partner or audience have said, and respond in a meaningful way. If people realise that they’re being lectured and aren’t really a part of the discussion, they’ll disengage.

Speak So Others Listen Tip No.5 – Have Fun!

People can pick up a lot about your state of mind, just through your body language and vocal style. Make a conscious effort to relax. Shake your body out, breathe deeply and don’t hold a rigid pose.

There’s no reason why you should take yourself too seriously. If the speaker is relaxed, the audience or conversational partner will be too. Even in formal situations you can be appropriate and polite, without being uptight. Communicating  is a deeply enjoyable activity, but only you can make sure that you don’t get in your own way.

Want to learn more? There’s an interesting article by Carrie Wilkens, PhD entitled, How to Talk So People Will Listen, at www.huffingtonpost.com

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