Have you ever felt that someone in your life just doesn’t listen to you? You say the same thing over and over, and the result is the same. This can be a huge issue in marriages, with parents, or even with children. Do you find yourself yelling just to be heard? That creates issues in the relationship doesn’t it? Of course as a Muslim, you would know that each relationship must have its due respect as well. Let’s look at 3 ways for how to get others to listen to you- without all the shouting!
Tip 1: Put yourself in the other person’s shoes:
If you are pick a time when the other person isn’t receptive- they will simply not listen to you. Timing is even more crucial if it is an important conversation. One of the most important aspects of being heard is to pick the right time to speak. One strategy to learn this is to imagine that the person is in front of you. Notice what’s going on for them right now, would they be receptive?
OK, so you’ve figured out that the timing is ok. How are you planning to say the words? How would they feel hearing these particular words? Imagine your reaction if you were to hear those very words. This exercise can help you to notice the impact of what you are about to say. You may find that the communication may be seen as hurtful or be misunderstood. Take a little time to rehearse the words ahead of time. But what happens if you need to react in the moment? The best thing to do is to pause, reflect and then speak. Remember, words cannot be taken back once spoken and hurt caused can’t be taken back.
Tip 2: Give the other person choice.
Being a good Muslim, and human being requires that we pay attention to other people’s feelings. It is equally important to have your own voice heard- they key here is to understand that both are important. This means that your need to be heard shouldn’t hurt or guilt the other person.
Have you ever had someone give you a guilt trip to do something? Perhaps you’ve received the silent treatment, or even an ultimatum. Would you consider that communication effective? Effective communication is about being heard and understood, and allowing the other person to have a choice. Once you have practiced what you wanted to say then say it, but remember that the choice to respond is theirs. They may or may not do what you asked. Getting someone to hear you is one thing, but getting him or her to do what you ask- well, that’s up to him or her. If you give them that freedom to say yes or no, they may surprise you. If you take away their choice, the reaction will most likely be negative.
Tip 3: Make clear requests:
Being heard is often about telling people what we want them to do. If you are clear about what you don’t want, and let’s say you tell your daughter that, she has heard what you don’t want. She still may not know what you “do” want. Before you start feeling upset and angry, take a deep breath. Think about what instructions you really want to give, and then give them in a clear, positive statement.
A positive statement is all about how the brain hears language. For example, if you tell your child “don’t spill the milk” you might notice that the milk has been spilt the very next moment. This is because the brain does not register “nots.” So, it would have to imagine spilling the milk and then negate that, but by then it is too late. Tell your child to “hold the glass with both hands” and the message is more likely to be understood. If you communicate with respect and regard, the essence of that will shine through. For example you could say “I demand that you clean your room” to your teenage son. Or, instead you could say “I need you to clean your room before we go out. Your clear and respectful communication will ensure that you are heard. That then allows the person to respond, as they would like. Of course, in parenting this may be about setting consequences, but that isn’t our subject for the moment- that choice is up to you.
Tip 4: manage your expectations:
I have a client who came to be very worried about his mum. He didn’t know what to do because his mum was calling him at work several times a day complaining about one thing or another. This was really affecting his work. He knew something had to change but he did not want to break ties or be disrespectful. His mum was relying on him for all her emotional needs. Relying on other people for support is natural, but remember that other people have their needs and limitations too. If you place all your hopes on someone else, you might well be disappointed. Remember; first rely on Allah (SWT), then on yourself. Of course, there are some needs that you cannot meet on your own such as companionship and human connection, but you can learn to create your own sense of self worth. Also be clear about what you are offering in return. When you manage your own needs appropriately, you will find that your relationships with others will also flourish.
Improving our communication skills takes practice. I hope that you will implement these tips. Remember, keep trying different things and you will know when your communication is being heard. Start by listening to others and you will find them more open to hearing you.