11 Tiny Things You Do That Make Others Listen To You

How to ensure people take note, prick their ears, and listen up.

Two friends talking Brooke Cagle | Unsplash

Ever get frustrated that people don’t seem to pay you attention? I’ve been there many times, and it sucks. That’s why I’ve spent years studying the art of authority, communication, and leadership. I’ve also learned a ton as a coach, working with hundreds of people in direct conversation. The skill of garnering rapt attention to what you’re saying is becoming rare, but it will help you make a tremendous impact in the world.


Here are 11 things you can do that make others listen to you

1. Don’t get angry or overly emotional

Did you ever try to get someone to do what you wanted by raising your voice, shouting, or acting out of annoyed aggression? Unlikely. People resist anger because it is not controlled. It reflects a chaotic and insecure state, which others can’t respect. If you’re triggered, take a breath, and always speak from a place of measured calm. In a panel debate, the most erratically emotional speaker rarely garners the most attention and respect.

RELATED: Life-Changing Anger Management Techniques To Use When You Feel Like You're About To Explode


2. Make your words count

Don’t dilute the power and meaning behind your words by saying more than you need. When we use more words than is necessary to make a point, the value of any one word diminishes. Measured, controlled talking makes people hang on to your words because they know they are scarce, and scarcity is valuable.

3. Speak slower

There is a place for faster talking if the person you are with has a higher rate of speaking. You might do this to align your tempo to maintain rapport. But usually, speaking fast reflects imbalance. You’re rushing your words out of insecurity or an unwillingness to be in the spotlight. Respected speakers take their time. They own their space. This emphasizes their higher status in the room, and people will respond accordingly.

4. Embrace silences and create space

Most people are terrified of seemingly awkward silences in conversations. They um and ahh their way through, fidgeting should any pause longer than a second arise. But is this lack of surety and discomfort the foundation for developing a beautiful discussion? 


Be different, and find a way to make peace with silence. As many assume, this doesn’t show a lack of intelligence; it emphasizes your strength. You need to set the frame and demonstrate that quiet periods are ok. They add to the electricity running through the connection. Watch some of the best speakers and notice how many are ok with long pauses. This attracts respect and attention.

RELATED: How To Embrace The Deepest Part Of Conversation — The Silence Between Words

5. Don’t ramble

Like talking more than you need to, rambling takes this to another level. If you ramble in many different directions, you’re not a flawed human, but it will affect the degree to which people are willing to listen. Rambling shows that you can’t focus on a single point and deliver your response with clarity. It also communicates a lack of surety in what you’re saying. It’s harder for the listener to hone in on the multitude of disparate points you make, so they are far less likely to listen after a point. This takes practice and awareness. Stick to the point.

6. Listen to others

To expect rapt attention from another, you can’t be the guy blabbering continually without really listening to the other person. When we direct our attention to listening — like really actually listening — we become less self-conscious, which builds calm and confidence in us. But it will also be felt by the other person, ensuring they don’t sit there stewing with resentment that you ignored them. They, too, will reciprocate and listen to you when it’s your turn to speak.


7. Communicate your boundaries

We’re subtly communicating our tolerance for disrespect in everything we do. If we’re in a conversation and allow others to butt in or talk over us continually, we sub-communicate a tolerance for disrespect. So what do you do? You continue speaking assertively if someone is trying to cut in. If that isn’t having an effect, be bold and calmly tell them that you’d appreciate them allowing you to finish a sentence. Be upfront about this, and don’t cower to avoid ‘rocking the boat’. This will garner respect.

RELATED: How To Set Healthy Boundaries For Harmonious Relationships

8. Speak boldly but don’t shout

Those who command attention in a room speak with little hesitation in their words. This doesn’t mean you need to raise your voice. It means speaking with confidence behind what you’re saying. Even if you aren’t sure what you’re saying, you need to lean in and say it like you mean it. Hesitant speaking and language will signal a lack of faith in your words and fall on deaf ears. Strong speaking is less about what you say and far more about how you say it.


9. Use decisive language

The words and phrases we choose to make our points make a significant difference. If we lead our opinions with phrases like: ‘I’m pretty sure,’ ‘I feel,’ ‘I kinda think,’ ‘I guess,’ etc., why would others feel compelled to buy into what you’re saying? Have faith in your words and tell them, ‘I believe,’ ‘I know,’ and ‘I think.’ Always speak with total, unfaltering conviction. There is confidence here, and others will be inclined to believe what you’re saying.

10. Be respectful of others

Powerful communication isn’t a one-way thing. It depends on the context, but if you’re driving forward with your opinions while giving little time to acknowledge the points of others, even if you disagree, you can’t expect others to reciprocate. There must be mutual respect. If you disagree, you can still acknowledge others and be respectful. You say: ‘I respect your opinion, but I disagree.’ Give others space to air their words, and they will be more inclined to give you the freedom to be heard.

11. Be real

Those who tend to gather keen listeners don’t hide what they mean with bland platitudes and waffly misdirections. Modern politicians are great at this. Influential talkers say what might feel uncomfortable and awkward if it means being honest. Speaking the truth, especially saying things that aren’t always comfortable, takes courage. To speak courageously, from the heart — this is what will bring you rapt attention, respectful listeners and even standing ovations. Keep it real, even if it hurts.


RELATED: 9 Subtle Behaviors That Instantly Attract People to You

Alex Mathers is a writer and coach who helps you build a money-making personal brand with your knowledge and skills while staying mentally resilient.