So others will listen
In one popular TED talk, the deep-sea explorer Robert Ballard presented persuasive arguments for why more money should be spent on deep-sea research. Among many other facts that he shared, two, in particular, were attention-grabbing.
The first was that the annual budget of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is equivalent to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) budget for 1,600 years. The second fact was that the greatest mountain range on Earth lies not above ground, but beneath the ocean.
New and interesting information makes people sit up and take notice. And the information can be remembered more easily too. This is a skill of influential, commanding, interesting and persuasive speakers — speakers who are able to talk so others will listen.
In another example, author and academic, Susan Cain, gave a TED talk in which she discussed the power of introverts, a topic that on the surface might seem somewhat boring or forgettable. However, Cain knew she had to shake up her audience. So she told them that there was “no correlation between producing good ideas and being a good talker.”
Immediately, the executives in her audience took notice. Cain’s statement shattered their common belief that people who speak up the most in meetings are the most creative (based on the fact that such people are more likely than quiet introverts to be noticed in meetings). Since she’d formulated her idea in a way that was new for her audience, she increased the possibility of her audience remembering it.
Have you ever listened to someone speak that gave you goosebumps? Did you wonder how they managed to affect you so deeply?
There’s extensive research that we like people who are like us. Studies show no matter what people say they prefer likable people over competent people. In other words, don’t worry so much about being impressive. Dale Carnegie’s work agrees with scientific research.
Do you ever get the feeling that people aren’t really paying much attention to what you’re saying?
Learning to speak in a way that encourages listening can have numerous beneﬁts. Imagine how different your life would be diﬀerent if others made it a point to seek out your opinions.
It’s frustrating to have worthwhile things to say when no one will pay attention long enough to really listen. When others listen to you, you carry more inﬂuence. You have more impact on everyone and greater control over your life.
What’s the diﬀerence? Is it in the voice? Is it body language?
It’s actually a number of things, but fortunately, they’re all things that can be learned. You’ll soon know what you need to know to talk so others will listen.
We’re going to attack the challenge from every angle. Your charisma, body language, mindset, vocabulary, and more will all be addressed in this post.
Let’s get started.
What many of us are lacking at the most basic level is charisma!
Charisma is diﬃcult to deﬁne. Merriam-Webster deﬁnes charisma as a special magnetic charm or appeal. Charm is then deﬁned as a trait that fascinates, allures, or delights.
So that’s a good starting point. All the other ideas and techniques to get people to listen to you will be built on your level of charisma. It’s like your foundation.
Granted, the deﬁnition of charisma is somewhat vague. After all, Dr. Phil and Gandhi don’t have a lot in common, but both are certainly considered to have a lot of charisma. A very wide range of personality types can be charismatic, so there’s obviously more to it than personality.
But if you think about it, people that are charismatic make other people feel good about themselves and don’t censor themselves as much as the average person does. They’re freer than the rest of us.
So how can you develop more charisma?
Consider these ideas:
Emotions can be contagious, so let people catch something positive from you — they’ll appreciate it. You’ll ﬁnd that
if you smile more, the world will treat you diﬀerently.
Even if you don’t feel like smiling, try it anyway. Your body can lead your emotions. Smiling when you don’t feel like it can lighten your mood and make you feel better. When you feel better, others feel better when they’re around you.
Be curious, interested, and open.
The great Dale Carnegie said that you could make more friends in two months by being interested in others than in two years of trying to get people interested in you. Being a friend is the best way to make a friend.
If you attempt to be genuinely interested in others, you’ll ﬁnd interesting things. Everyone is interesting in some way.
People are attracted to those that are open and non-judgmental. No one wants to be judged, and people feel resistance towards those that are.
Be genuinely curious about the world and the other person. It has a certain warmth and charm. By having these qualities, you’ll naturally be more interested in everyone and everything around you. You become more open and positive.
Encourage and support others. People don’t want criticism,
they crave support and aﬃrmation.
If you really focus in on the other person, you’ll make them feel special. Be 100% present in the conversation. Listen intently and maintain eye contact (without awkward staring). Avoid allowing your mind to wander.
Focus on your breath. If you ﬁnd your mind starting to roam to other places and things, a good way to bring yourself back to your present reality is to focus on your breathing. Your breath is a good link to your reality.
You can also focus on your environment. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell?
Charismatic people are usually viewed as being somewhat important too.
When you’re assertive, you’re showing the world that you’re important.
Whether you realize it or not, you teach others how to treat you.
If you behave in a way that suggests you’re relevant, people will treat you like you’re relevant.
Understand that being assertive is not the same as being pushy. Being assertive simply means that you’re open about what you want and need. Pushy suggests that the other person isn’t important. You’re actually both important — that’s the right message.
You can develop assertiveness by simply being more open about your needs. Give yourself little tasks that will build your assertiveness. When someone asks you what movie you want to see, pick a movie. The same for a restaurant. Don’t say, “I don’t know.” Or “I don’t care.”
Being assertive makes your life much easier.
When people know what you need from them, you’re a lot more likely to get it.
Strengthen your conﬁdence.
Can you imagine a charismatic person without conﬁdence? It’s not possible. Get out there and face your fears. Start with the small ones and work your way up. Act conﬁdent and people will believe you’re conﬁdent.
Each day, remember the times that you’ve been successful in the past.
Focus on your victories.
Manage your self-talk. We’re talking to ourselves, on some level, all day long. Ensure that you’re saying good, positive things to yourself.
Being in the present moment is great for your conﬁdence. It’s diﬃcult to lack conﬁdence if you’re not projecting negative consequences into the future.
Learn to see the humor in every situation. Others love this quality, and it’s a pleasant way to live too. It’s relaxing and fun and it allows those around you to feel the same way. Be light as you move through the world and you’ll be a people-magnet.
Be decisive and take the initiative. Great leaders and those with great charisma are not hesitant or indecisive. Go with your gut and push forward.
Compliment others, but be honest about it.
Everyone has something that’s worthy of admiration. Mention it.
This isn’t the easiest tip, but it might be the most relevant. We all admire those that move through the world freely and without a lot of self-consciousness. You can’t be yourself if you’re too concerned with what others think about you.
Realize that other people are too concerned with themselves to care about what you’re doing. Everyone else has better things to worry about than you. While that might make you feel a little less important in the grand scheme of things, it should also let you feel a little freer.
Keep working on your focus and self-conﬁdence.
Both of these things will allow you to feel a greater sense of freedom to be yourself.
Give your opinions freely.
Being charismatic is largely about making other people feel good when they’re around you. This is accomplished by how you treat them and by being socially genuine and free. By being free and uninhibited, you encourage the same in others.
We all have a desire to just be ourselves and feel relaxed. Free yourself and you’ll be helping others free themselves.
You can learn to be charismatic. It’s not about developing qualities you don’t have — you simply need to feel more self-assured about qualities you already have.
Much of communication is non-verbal. Others make judgments and come to conclusions about you before you ever even open your mouth. Since so much of communication is based on things other than the words you choose, it makes sense to give your body language some time and consideration.
The goal of your body language should be to convey that you’re important and open, interesting and interested.
Here are several ideas to make that happen:
Take up some space.
Avoid acting small. Open up your shoulders and extend your legs out a little bit. If you’re sitting at the table, spread out a little bit. At a meeting, take plenty of space for your laptop, pad of paper, and coﬀee.
Important people take the space they require and then other people ﬁll in around them.
Take the space you need and then take a little more.
Keep your shoulders relaxed.
It’s easy to have tense shoulders and not notice it yourself. Let your shoulders relax and fall down. People with authority are more relaxed in common situations than others. Be relaxed, or at least look like you’re relaxed.
Stand and sit straight.
People that slouch are in many cases trying to appear smaller than they really are. Be bold, big, and straight.
Lean towards whomever you’re speaking to.
You show interest in the other person by leaning in slightly. It shows that you’re paying attention. Others appreciate this and are more likely to listen to you in return.
Laugh and smile.
We all like to be around others who laugh and smile freely. This body language signal attracts others to you.
Leave your face alone.
There’s something somewhat unpleasing about someone touching their face. Keep your hands away from your face. It’s a healthy habit to get into anyway. Hands are generally dirty since you use them to touch everything. No need to put them on your face.
Avoid looking down at the ground.
It puts you at a lower social status than your listener.
Keep your eyes and head up. If you want to appear friendly, look at the other person’s mouth. If you want to be dominant, look at their forehead. If you want to be somewhere in between, look at eye level.
Consider someone like James Bond. He moves slowly but purposefully. Conﬁdent and commanding personalities tend to have slower motions. Nervous people rush around.
Keep the ﬁdgeting to a minimum.
Can you imagine James Bond ﬁdgeting? Don’t shake your foot, tap your ﬁngers, pick at yourself, or anything else along those lines. Keep all unnecessary movements to a minimum.
Use your hands boldly.
While you shouldn’t be using your hands in unproductive ways, your hands can be used to emphasize certain points during a speech. A good idea is to watch others and pattern yourself after someone that uses their hands eﬀectively.
Keep your head back.
You might stand with a straight back but have your neck craned forward. Keep your head up and back.
Personal space is important.
The proper spacing varies from country to country and situation to situation, but it’s important to respect the personal space of others. If you’re too close to the other person, you’ll make them uncomfortable, they won’t listen, and they’ll probably avoid you in the future. If you’re too far away for the situation, it’ll just seem odd.
It’s easy to tell if you’re getting a little too close because they’ll back away from you.
Take the feedback and use it.
Mirror the other person.
If you’ve ever really paid attention, you’ve probably noticed mirroring. That’s when the actions of two people start to match each other — it only happens when both parties are really in sync. For instance, you pick up your glass and the other person picks up theirs.
Mirroring happens naturally on its own when the connection is strong. But it can also be used consciously to improve rapport and communication.
Mimic the other person’s posture and mannerisms. If her hand is in her lap, put your hand in your lap. If she moves her hand when she speaks, do the same thing. The key is to not mirror everything and to allow a delay. Don’t mirror in real time, but rather stay a few seconds behind.
If you do it too much, it’ll look odd and can actually distract the other person from what you have to say.
Body language can have a dramatic eﬀect on your ability to get others to listen to you. Take a couple of these tips and put them into practice for the next 3-4 weeks. Then add a few more after the ﬁrst group has become habitual. In no time at all, you’ll be commanding attention like never before.
We’ve touched on a few things related to beliefs and attitude, like conﬁdence and assertiveness. But how can you attain the actual mindset you need to naturally display all the qualities we previously mentioned?
For creating the mindset you desire, aﬃrmations and NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) are excellent and eﬀective tools. They both speak to your sub-conscious and can change your beliefs at the root.
We ultimately believe what we think about all the time.
You might as well believe things that serve you. Repeat your aﬃrmations several times each day. Whenever you notice negative self-talk, stop yourself and replace the negative thoughts with positive aﬃrmations.
Select a few of these aﬃrmations to support your eﬀorts to be more inﬂuential:
- “People want to hear what I have to say.”
- “I am worthwhile and important.”
- “What I have to say is important.”
- “I am in command of all social situations.”
- “I am completely free to be myself.”
- “I am charismatic and desirable.”
- “People are grateful to hear what I have to say.”
- “I am the most conﬁdent person in the room.”
Feel free to come up with aﬃrmations of your own. The simple way to create aﬃrmations is to imagine what beliefs will help you achieve your objective. Keep your aﬃrmations positive and in the present tense.
NLP stands for neuro-linguistic programming. NLP was developed in the 1970s as a therapeutic and self-development tool to improve communication. The mirroring strategy we mentioned earlier for instance, is an NLP technique.
One of the best ways to utilize NLP is for building rapport. There’s little communication occurring without the presence of rapport. Rapport doesn’t necessarily mean that the two parties are in agreement, but rather that there’s mutual understanding and trust.
When in rapport, your ability to inﬂuence others increases dramatically.
Rapport allows you to aﬀect the other person’s psychology. People are much more likely to listen to you and implement your suggestions. Research suggests that many decisions are based more on rapport than the actual merit of the choices available.
Use these NLP techniques to build rapport with others:
Emphasize the similarities.
When you’re communicating with someone, you can choose to either emphasize the diﬀerences or emphasize the similarities. If you can focus on what you have in common, a lot of the resistance people feel will gradually disappear. If you emphasize the diﬀerences, rapport will be next to impossible to develop.
It takes practice, but you can quickly develop the habit of focus on what you have in common with others.
Pacing is mirroring taken to the next level. With mirroring, you’re developing rapport by showing that you’re similar to the other person. Once you’ve established rapport with mirroring, you can then lead the person — in essence, they’ll then be mirroring you.
You’ll know if you’re in rapport because the other person will copy your actions. This is a great way to test rapport. Pick up your glass. Tilt your head. Scratch your nose. If the other person does the same, then you’re in a strong state of rapport.
Match body posture. Stand or sit the same way. Be subtle in your mirroring or you could oﬀend the other person.
Match their breathing.
Match their way of speaking. Use some of the same vocabulary. Match their speed of speech. This includes language patterns. Some people have phrases they like to use. Don’t be afraid to use the same phrases in conversation.
Once rapport is ﬁrmly established, you can then lead the other person. For example, if you behave in a way that’s calm and relaxed, the other person becomes more calm and relaxed.
Once they’re mirroring you, they’re far more receptive to your ideas and suggestions.
Having a high level of rapport makes communication easier and more eﬀective. Remember to minimize the diﬀerences between you and the other person. Maximize the similarities. Accomplish those two things and rapport becomes much easier to establish.
In a nutshell, the mindset you want to have is:
“I am a good, interesting and important person with interesting and important things to say. I move through the world without apology; I do and say whatever I think is right. I am kind and supportive of others.”
Would you listen to that person?
Would you respect them?
Would you trust them?
Language And Voice
People judge others based on the words one chooses to use.
Vocabulary provides a glimpse into another person’s level of knowledge and education. Your vocabulary will be better developed around subject matters that you know well. This includes things like commonly used terms and lingo.
There are also certain words that generate interest and acceptance. Other words can have the opposite eﬀect.
Follow these tips to use your language and voice more eﬀectively:
Positive words and positive people make us feel good. If you’re saying positive things, people will like you more and be more inclined to listen.
Keep your vocabulary reasonable for your audience.
You wouldn’t use your graduate level vocabulary while talking to a bunch of 3rd graders would you? Likewise, if you’re a doctor, the person you’re talking to in the grocery store might not appreciate high-end medical lingo.
Talking over someone’s head greatly reduces communication. You’re not communicating if you’re not being understood. It also puts people oﬀ and makes them feel inadequate. It accomplishes nothing positive.
Vocabulary can establish credibility.
Use the appropriate words in the proper manner.
If you sound like you know what you’re talking about, people will assume that you do.
If others think you know what you’re talking about, they’re more likely to listen.
As soon as someone thinks to themselves, “This person doesn’t know what they’re talking about,” they’re done listening.
If you don’t agree with someone, you could say, “I’m not sure I agree with that.” That’s a little less harsh than, “You’re wrong.” Making deﬁnitive statements in disagreement doesn’t encourage communication. In this example, the other person would be likely to either start defending themselves or to simply stop listening to you altogether.
Vary the inﬂection in your voice.
If you sound like a monotone robot, stop. Free up your voice and allow it to sound interesting.
Vary your volume.
Add some emphasis to your words. Be lively in your speech. Be sure the volume is appropriate for the environment. If you want people to listen to you, ﬁrst they have to be able to hear you. So speak up.
Speak at the proper speed.
Talking too fast makes it more diﬃcult to be understood. Speaking too slowly causes people’s minds to wander. They can hear faster than you can speak. But you can speak faster than your ability to speak clearly.
If people are constantly asking you to repeat yourself, you likely need to either speak up or enunciate. Don’t mumble.
Use your language and voice to the best of your capability. These are the things that everyone actually hears when you speak. It makes good sense to put your best foot forward.
Getting others to listen is important.
Our ability to inﬂuence others is paramount to success in nearly every endeavor that involves other people.
Maybe no one has been listening to you up to this point, but that can all change.
The things that make others want to listen and pay attention to you are all things that can be cultivated and improved.
Starting with charisma makes a lot of sense. Having charisma is the epitome of having attention and admiration. If you have charisma, by deﬁnition, people are going to listen to what you have to say.
The next step is to incorporate the tools and techniques detailed in this post. Start small by implementing one or two strategies at a time into your daily routines, and then add more as you’re ready.
Life is so accommodating. You interact with people every day at home, work, and out in public. You have an unlimited number of opportunities to practice every day. If you need more opportunities, get out and talk to more people.
If you practice every day, how could you not become a great and interesting communicator relatively quickly?
Set a goal of becoming a more commanding, interesting, and persuasive speaker.
Find a way to gauge your progress and keep track of how you’re progressing. Have the intention of improving every day and you’ll improve. You can be successful at this if you simply put in the eﬀort and give it the attention it requires.
By learning to talk so others will listen, you’ll develop a skill that will enable you to make more money, enhance your social life, and strengthen your relationships.
Such amazing results are well worth your eﬀort!