By Wayne Hoover
I have a tendency to speak at people instead of speak with people. I have come to realize that a lot of my blog posts have been about how to stay positive or the benefits of a raw food diet but I haven’t really been speaking with my audience- I haven’t been telling stories and engaging. I aim to start adding my personal touch to posts more often- its this personal touch that makes each one of us shine.
By speaking with people instead of at them they are much more inclined to listen to you and trust you. Who wants to just listen to someone telling them what to do all the time? I can tell you this- my habit of constantly trying to speak at people instead of really connect with them has really hurt my relationships. I often feel that I know whats best for someone or how they can overcome all their problems- but really (even if I actually do) by speaking at them by telling them how to do things differently they will never really listen to me.
When I speak at people and try and tell them what to do- usually my nicest friends will nod and say “Yes Wayne that’s some good advice- I’ll probably do it.” and switch subjects and most of the time never actually take my advice- this is a loose loose situation- I lost by not effectively communicating and they lost by not really hearing me and taking my advice and to add to this we both lost our time.
Recently a really great friend of mine finally let me know she had had it with me constantly talking at her (by the way the best friends are the ones who let you know when your messing up). Now I realize that every time I was with her I seemed to be telling her what was probably the best thing for her to do- or think- or eat- or whatever. When she told me this it took about a day for me to understand that if you want people to understand you- trust you and take what you have to say seriously you have to speak with them not at them.
The key to speaking with people and not at people is developing connection and empathy within yourself. To really be heard by people we must shift from the attitude of “I have all the answers and you must just listen to me” to “I’m here to connect with you as a fellow human being.” When you connect with someone you listen to them- I mean really hear them and see your shared humanity- see how you aren’t that different from your friends- see how you could easily put yourself in their shoes because you could have easily had been born with their parents and chosen their way of life. You aren’t trying to fix them- you aren’t trying to do anything to them at all you are simply just connecting with them.
When you connect with people you might or might not say anything at all to them- you might not decide to do anything else than listen- and this is OK. Because when you are really connected to someone you will know what is the best thing to say at the best time- but you can’t know the best thing to say if you are only concerned with telling others what to do- basically just yelling. Its much like those people who yell at the top of their lungs in public spaces telling others what god to believe in or whatever- does anyone really listen to him- no not really they might hear him but they don’t listen to him. But what if that guy was to come up to you and start a conversation and really listen to you and develop a connection with you- would you be more inclined to listen to him now?
Tell your story
This is great and all- but how do we connect on the internet or in books or on podcasts where we are not speaking one on one? Tell your story. People connect when they hear stories because it reminds us of our shared humanity- as we all have stories.
When we stop trying to make our points heard is when they really become heard because we allow for it to happen- we are no longer forcing it to happen. So tell your story- be yourself and remember the most important thing is not getting your message across its connection.