If you are feeling stressed, anxious and feel that no one is listening to you it can make you feel awful.
You want to let off steam or get something done but nothing is happening. They just aren’t listening.
This blog will help you to understand why people don’t listen and provide you with some ways to get heard. This will be one way of reducing your anxiety and helping you to feel better.
If you are trying to tell someone something important; maybe you are feeling stressed at work, maybe you are struggling with your studies ( Exam Anxiety ) or it could be a loss like losing your dog, why aren’t they listening? Are they uninterested? Don’t they care or understand how important it is for you to say what you need to say to feel better? Do you think that this behaviour is confirming that you aren’t good enough?
Why won’t they just listen! It can’t be that difficult to listen, can it?
Yes, it can. Let me tell you more.
We all need to be heard
Being heard is part of being a human. It’s about communicating with each other. Listening is connecting with others. Its a way of living better together and taking action. It’s our right to speak but its also the other persons right to listen or not.
So why does everyone ignore me?
Firstly, is it really everyone who ignores you? If people do ignore you is it about you or is it about them? I’m going to give you a couple of examples that will help.
Ways people don’t listen
Parent stress and anxiety-
Are you a parent? Ever said something to your kids and they ignore you? Surely as a parent, they should be respectful and listen to you. You have got so much to do with juggling the household chores and working and all you want to do is say something to get a response, but you are ignored. What do you do then? Shout, give up or something else? How does that make you feel? Angry, unloved, lacking control or a bad parent?
Work-related stress and anxiety-
Let’s think about a work scenario. You are the manager.
You have asked someone to do something at work and it doesn’t get done? Are they not respecting your position, your experience, and your knowledge and skills. Is that true? How does that make you feel? Militant, frustrated, fed-up? What do you think now? Have you got to ask again, get someone else to do the task or do it yourself? Does this add to feelings of anxiety about the job? In your position, you have responsibility and accountability so you have enough already on your plate. Maybe you are even doubting your position, or the original purpose of asking.
Relationship stress and anxiety-
Did you try to let your partner know how you are feeling about a problem in your relationship and nothing changed? For some people that makes you feel more anxious, frustrated and confused about what to do next. Will you give up now or try to communicate again later? What emotions do you feel? Worried, confused or unloved? Are you thinking worse things now? Do you think it is easier to put up with things and say nothing?
There are so many situations when we feel that no one is listening when we have got something important to say. But why is this?
Maybe in the scenarios above they were listening and chose to ignore you. This could be because there were more benefits of not listening or appearing that they had not heard. Yet they genuinely may not have heard or if they did they aren’t giving you any feedback.
Why don’t people listen?
Listening is about focused attention. It requires the right situation. I’ll list a few reasons why people might not have been listening to you.
- Their attention was focused on something else, not you speaking.
- There was background noise. Was the TV on, were other people talking or was there other noises that could have been a distraction?
- They have a hearing problem.
- They were thinking or worrying about something.
- They are very stressed or anxious, in pain or unwell.
- They couldn’t understand you. This might be because you used jargon, a different language or spoke too fast.
- There were other distractions in the room or outside the room.
- You weren’t speaking loud enough or the opposite, maybe you were shouting.
- You weren’t assertive enough.
- You started by blaming them.
- They weren’t facing you.
- Your body language wasn’t congruent with what you were saying so giving the other person mixed messages. This can happen if someone does something at the same time as speaking.
What’s your response to not being listened to?
All these situations are so frustrating to some extent.
Listening is part of communication where we listen to understand and interpret the message being sent. If people don’t listen then they won’t always get the message. And the more it happens the more frustrated and anxious you become. Your blood pressure goes up. You get that negative thinking. Some people mindread and imagine that the other person isn’t interested or doesn’t care.
Other people get a range of thinking distortions such as telling themselves that because there is no response the thing they said wasn’t important. If your confidence and self-esteem is low you might feel like an imposter. Consequently, you doubt yourself and you can get into a vicious cycle of low confidence, low self-esteem and anxiety. And eventually, if it continues for a long time that can lead to health problems.
When people really listen its called active listening.
What is active listening
Active listening is listening so well that the message is heard correctly and the listener can begin to interpret it. They might not interpret it correctly at first but the feedback you hopefully are getting will tell you if they understand. They could ask questions and their body language might provide some answers. You might need to show some compassion and help them to understand any anxious thoughts or misinterpretations.
Remember, people listen well to converse, understand and connect.
But active listening is very difficult, especially in our fast-paced lives.
Active listening can take years to master, that is one reason why counsellors can take several years to train.
How can I speak so people will listen
You need to start with a purpose or intention to send a message. Perhaps you could break the reason for speaking down into manageable chunks. For example, if you want to talk with your partner about moving house start with the conversation that will show that you have been thinking about moving house. Then you can gain their current view of moving. Either the next part of the conversation or another conversation at a later date will build on that. You might discuss the benefits, the costs, the difficulties or where to move to.
Here are some tips
If its a difficult conversation or emotionally charged conversation, whatever the topic, you will need to pick the right time. If the ‘how to’ start part causes you stress and anxiety here are some easy ways to begin. Just put your words in at the end of the sentence where you see the X.
Start by saying ‘I think/ feel/ need…X. This is because….X. I think it would be helpful if…X, because…X.
Can we discuss this now or arrange a time when we can?’
A second way you could approach a difficult conversation where you want to be listened to might be like this.
When you do/ say….X, I feel…X. I would prefer if you could…X. Can we discuss this?’
Find a trained listener
Finally, if you are worrying about something that is making you feel anxious and you need help, consider getting help for stress and anxiety from a counsellor or hypnotherapist.
Counsellors and hypnotherapists are trained to help you explore your emotions by listening to the problem. Counsellors help you to bring the problem to the surface so you can consciously find a solution. Counsellors don’t fix you but they can make a huge difference by holding that space for you to be listened to.
Hypnotherapy can help anxiety and related problems by the hypnotherapist firstly listening and understanding the issue. Then you listen and focus your attention to the voice of the hypnotherapist who delivers positive suggestions to your subconscious mind so you can make the changes that you want to make.
So be kind to yourself and know that communication and listening is hard. We all get it wrong sometimes. Yet, communication is also very important so keep going!
Awaken the Change provides help with stress, anxiety and bereavement issues.