“How the hell did she not hear me?”
I was making small talk with a customer at my job. I said something clearly, audibly, and without mumbling, to her face. She completely ignored it.
We were talking about health and fitness, and for much of the conversation, it seemed like I wasn’t even there. She would ask a question, I would give an answer, and halfway through my response, she’d be speaking again. At one point she asked, “Do you work out?”
I said, “Yes. I do actually.” And she said, “You really should.” She wasn’t agreeing with me. She said it as if I’ve never worked out in my life.
I figured she was just a poor listener, but I started recognizing that moments like this were common in my life. Even when I spoke clearly, I still wasn’t being heard. Other people would speak over me and my words weren’t getting through to anyone. Since then, I’ve figured out why.
What Makes a Speaker?
Picture a powerful speaker like Martin Luther King or JFK. Why did people listen to them? A confident voice was only a single aspect of what made them so compelling.
This might seem obvious, but those who command attention speak with the intention of being heard. You can sense it in their voice. The underlying message is, “you will hear what I have to say.” It’s not, “please listen to what I have to say.”
They don’t hesitate. They’re committed to their words. Their mission is to get through to you, and they can’t do that by hoping you’ll hear them out. They make it happen.
Why No One Heard Me
When I spoke to other people, my demeanor, and my words, had an air of holding back. People could sense the lack of commitment in my voice.
If I was trying to be social, I knew I had to speak. But I also knew I was afraid to be heard and afraid to be seen. Each time I spoke it sounded like I was apologizing for my existence.
If I was trying to get someone to hear me, I felt like I was forcing them to do something they didn’t want to do. I was hypersensitive to the needs of others and did not value…