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When they Just Don't Listen - Refining Your Communication Skills

by Richard G. Ensman, Jr.
November/December 1998
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You've read all about the importance of active listening, no doubt. Maybe you've even attended seminars on listening, designed to sharpen your communication skills.

But what happens when you use your fine-tuned conversational skills, only to discover that your discussion partner isn't really listening to you? Do you end up frustrated and angry? Intimidated? Do you suffer in silence, complain, or simply resolve to try a little harder next time?

Perhaps the right answer is "none of the above." When you encounter someone who just doesn't listen, you can get the other person on track. . . .

- Repeat your statement. Gently repeat your comments until the other person indicates she understands.

- Keep going. Sure, the other person might continue talking. But if you continue as well, eyes averted from his, he'll eventually pause.

- Match the other person's voice. If she's speaking in a loud voice, raise yours. If she's speaking in a halting voice, speak slowly and

- Use a rejoinder. Grab your conversation partner's attention by asking him to "hold on." Or begin a statement with the phrase "Just let me say. . . ."

- Ask a harsh question. Sometimes it pays to drop the ...

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