Talking to someone who’s not listening is like speaking to a drunk person. They can sort of hold a conversation with you, but they’re not really “present” or engaged and they’re not going to remember a thing you said tomorrow. Today I’m going to teach you the five signs that they’re not listening (so you’re not communicating) and my super simple, amazingly effective tool to get the conversation back on track!
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What is Communication Anyway?
We use this word all the time, but have you ever stopped to think what it really means to communicate? Communication means that information is given and received – that there’s hopefully an exchange of information and an agreement on shared meaning.
If you were sitting alone in a room and talking out loud, would you define that as communicating? No, I didn’t think so. But half the time you’re practically doing just that but calling it communicating. You’re speaking to (or at) your partner, coworker or child and think you’re communicating even though they’re not really listening to a word you’re saying! You might as well be alone speaking to an empty room for all the good it’s doing you.
There are often many signs that you’re not communicating when you’re in dialogue with someone, but you ignore them and keep moving full steam ahead. You know in your gut that they’re not listening but you end up speaking louder, getting angry, frustrated, resentful and even butt hurt! Then you’re pissed off later saying, “I told you that already! No one listens to me around here!”
But here’s something I really need you to get. You co-create every single relationship you’re in. That means, you’re responsible for every single conversation and communication that you’re in. So, it’s not just about the other person “not listening.” It’s about you and what you’re doing in your attempts to get across your point or feeling.
There are five signs that communication isn’t happening. It might be you doing one of these five things or the person you’re speaking with. Either way, it’s time to reset and re-strategize!
And, as usual, I’ve got one of my great acronyms that you can use to remember what to look out for. We’re going to use the acronym BRAID.
Blaming: If you or the other person is acting like a victim or blaming anyone or anything for the situation, true communication has stopped.
Reading Minds: You can’t read anyone’s mind and they can’t read yours. If the conversation has sentences like, “I know what you’re thinking,” “I know what you’re going to say, so I’m not going to ask,” “You should know by now what I want,” or “You knew what I meant and you did it anyway!” then the conversation should stop right then and there.
Attacking: Once you start attacking one another in any way, the game is well and truly over. This includes passive aggressive remarks and actions (aggression is right there in the title); biting or constant sarcasm (what, you can’t take a joke? You take everything so seriously)! Obviously name-calling, diagnosing (you’re bipolar!) or attacks on character (you’ve always been a drama queen) are all a problem.
Interrupting: If you’re being interrupted or if you start talking over another person, conversation has stopped. If you’re being interrupted it means the other person is in fight/flight or freeze mode, so that amygdala is turned on and they are no longer listening (if they ever were). Interrupting can also be if the person takes a call, looks at their phone, gets distracted by something or someone outside the conversation or you can see that they’re trying to say something while you’re speaking.
Defensive: Any defensiveness at all, again by you or the other person, is a sign that people are in that fight/flight/freeze mode and no communication is happening so it’s time to re-set or come back to the conversation at another time.