It can be awful to feel like you’re being ignored, or that your opinion is being disregarded.
You start believing your thoughts aren’t worthy. You wonder if people around you are actually interested in what you’re saying.
Chances are it’s not what you’re saying but how you’re saying it that might make people zone out.
We’ve got some great insight into what you may be doing wrong, and how to get it right…
1. You’re Not Listening To Them
Conversations are a two-way street, right? If you’re the only one talking, it essentially becomes a monologue in front of an inactive audience. And nobody enjoys conversations with someone who only pays attention to themselves.
One of the reasons people may not be listening to you is because you don’t listen to them. Maybe it’s a long-standing habit of yours that puts them off chatting with you. Perhaps it’s something you’re doing in a specific conversation that caused the other person to stop listening.
Either way, make sure your communication involves talking and listening. Respond to what the other person is saying and they’ll be more likely to get, and stay, involved. Make the conversation mutually beneficial and engage them.
2. You Don’t Really Want To Be Heard
We often think that we want to have a conversation and then get frustrated when people don’t pay us enough attention.
However, we need to learn to reflect back on ourselves and the way we present what we’re saying.
It could be that you’re actually shying away from projecting your opinion, and are speaking too quietly or covering your mouth.
Sometimes, we get anxious about speaking in public and tell ourselves that people aren’t listening to us. Instead, we ought to acknowledge that we’re not great at communicating in some situations.
This is perfectly natural and just takes some time and practice to get over. Try to force yourself into situations where you need to talk to other people and your confidence will soon grow.
Soon, people will be keen to hear what you have to say because you’re keen to say it! If you’re invested in what you’re saying, people will want to know why – and they’ll start paying attention.
3. You’re Not Sure What You’re Trying To Say
This links to the point above and often comes down to insecurities.
You might have the perfect speech rehearsed, but you freeze up when you’re trying to actually deliver it. This makes you feel like you don’t know what you’re trying to say and makes things even harder for you.
The other explanation is that you feel like you have to contribute something, even if there’s nothing you really want to say. You want to speak and be heard almost for the sake of it, so you don’t have a clear point to deliver.
If you start ad-libbing on a topic you’re unfamiliar with, your speech will likely falter and sound unconvincing. People will begin to switch off. Prepare yourself and make sure there’s a reason when you speak.
4. You’re Not Speaking Clearly
Again, this links to wanting to say something for the sake of it. If you’re not sure what you’re trying to say, most people will bear with you for a few moments while you try to sort out your words.
If you suffer from a stutter, it’s a totally different issue and people will be much more compassionate.
If you’re rambling and being incoherent, you’ll get a short grace period where people will think “Oh, they’re nervous, let’s bear with them.” Then their minds will begin to drift.
It may sound harsh, but reverse the situation – how much attention would you pay to someone who’s ranting and muttering about no clear subject?
5. It’s Not Relevant
It’s clichéd, sure, but life is short. In some situations, we just need information fast. We want to be told what we want to know, and we don’t want to hear anything else.
If your boss asks when a project will be finished, tell them. Keep it relevant. They’ll stop listening if you start talking about your weekend or your commute.
It’s not because they’re not interested in your life, it’s because it’s irrelevant at this time. Some circumstances require speedy, accurate information with no fluff.
People stop listening once they’ve heard the same thing a few times, especially if it’s in the same conversation.
Sometimes you lose track of who you’ve told what to, but it can become a bit irritating if the same person tells you the same ‘news’ over and over. It doesn’t mean that people don’t want to hear what you have to say, it just means they don’t want to hear it several times.
You don’t need to start keeping a log of who you tell each story to, but try to read the room. If someone is zoning out, try to remember if you’ve already touched upon that point and re-engage them with a different topic.
This list has so far focused on what you’re doing, but it’s important not to take all the blame! There are some factors outside of your control that could be causing people not to listen to you.
Try to rationalize things and remind yourself that other people’s behavior often has nothing to do with you. It may be that the person you’re talking to just isn’t in the mood. Remember that you sometimes feel that way and try not to take it personally.
The reason someone may not be listening to you is that they’re too caught up in their own minds to pay attention. Do your best to read their body language and end the conversation if you feel like it’s not the right time.
8. You’re Not In The Right Mindset
We give off more vibes than we realize, and other people can quickly tune in to our moods. If you feel like people aren’t listening to you, it could be that you’re not coming across as though you want to talk.
If you’re giving off a strange vibe, people might not feel like they should engage in a conversation with you, or may leave you out of a group chat.
Reverse the situation – if someone seemed a bit ‘off,’ you might think it’s fairer to avoid talking to them than to push the conversation. It’s not your fault; it’s just something to be aware of.
9. You’re Leading Into It Badly
The way you start a conversation is really important – it lets the other person gauge the situation.
This is down to your body language and tone as much as it’s about what you’re actually saying. If you’re starting a sentence negatively, some people just won’t want to listen.
Similarly, if you’re being really positive in a situation where everyone else is feeling down or upset, it might be not appropriate.
Talking about someone or something might be what you need to do, but make sure you’re framing it in a good way to start with. Going into a conversation and being instantly rude isn’t going to engage the person you’re talking to!
Think about how you’re setting up the conversation and do your best to be compassionate and appropriate.
10. You’ve Interrupted Them
We’re all guilty of interrupting others from time to time, and we all know how annoying it is when someone interrupts you mid-flow.
You may not even realize you’re doing it, but it may be that you interrupt other people so much that they no longer want to pay attention to what you’re saying.
If you often cut people off mid-sentence, they probably feel devalued and uninteresting. As such, they’re less likely to pay attention to what you’re saying and won’t place any value on it.
Again, remember that conversation is a two-way street and that mutual respect is needed for everyone to feel heard and important.
11. You’re Apologizing For No Reason
Being able to apologize is great. Saying sorry for no reason? Irrelevant and mildly irritating.
If you’re reading this and feeling guilty, you can safely say that you do this! This isn’t intended to make you feel bad about yourself, but to shed some light on certain behaviors you may have.
By apologizing for talking, you’re depreciating yourself and people will quickly latch on to that. By saying sorry for having an opinion, people will place less value on it. If it’s so bad that you need to apologize, what are they going to gain from listening?
It’s a hard habit to break, but you’ll get there. This often comes with confidence, so do your best to keep putting yourself in situations where you talk to people.
Over time, you’ll realize that people do care about what you’re saying. Start placing more value on your thoughts because, not only are they important, they’re unique.
12. You’re Turning Into A Gossip
There’s a time and a place for gossiping, let’s be honest. It’s not the healthiest of behaviors, but sometimes you do need a little whinge about someone from work or your friend’s new boyfriend. The time and place for this probably isn’t at work or in serious situations!
Chatting freely is something we do when we’re comfortable, which is why we tend to do it around family and close friends. If there’s a mutual understanding between you and the person you’re chatting with, carry on.
If you don’t know someone well, starting a conversation about other people’s appearances or partners is inappropriate. You’ll quickly be labelled as a gossip and people will stop listening to you.
Gossips are seen in a negative light and tend to lose value socially, as nobody wants to be with someone who’s mean about other people. Again – time and place!
13. You’re Ill-informed
We can all Google something quickly and spout off the first thing that pops up. Wikipedia has become our go-to resource, which is perfectly fine most of the time.
If you’re using it to show that you’re incredibly knowledgeable about something, however, you’re likely to get shown up very quickly.
Many of us will admit to checking facts mid-conversation to sound intelligent and socially-aware. Make sure you’re doing this in the right situations though!
Getting into a deep, serious conversation with your boss about quantum physics when you can only recite the first line of a Wikipedia entry will make you look very silly, very quickly.
This may be one of the reasons that people stop listening to you. It’s interesting to participate in conversations, but nobody really wants to hear someone bluffing their way through one.
Take a step back and remember that it’s okay not to know everything about everything. People tend to dislike ‘know-it-alls’ anyway, so it’s fine to be the person learning something new.
People will pay you more attention, and respect you more, if you simply say “I don’t know much about that, actually. Tell me more?” Easy!
We understand that this list may seem like we’re putting a lot of emphasis on you and your behavior. And we are.
That’s not because you should take all the blame or feel guilty, but because, a lot of the time, you hold the power to change things.
It is easy to sit back and let things happen to us sometimes. Feeling unappreciated or ignored can make us feel downtrodden and helpless.
That’s why we’ve focused on the ways that you can adjust your behavior in order to get a different response from those around you.
Sure, it takes work, but it’ll all be worth it in the end! Not only will people pay you more attention, but you’ll feel so much more confident and capable in life.
Lucy is a travel and wellness writer currently based in Gili Air, a tiny Indonesian island. After over a year of traveling, she’s settled in paradise and spends her days wandering around barefoot, practicing yoga and exploring new ways to work on her wellbeing.