I had dinner last night with some employees of a company with whom I was engaged for presentation skills training, both live and webinar. To my right, there was a woman who had not been in the classes (let’s call her Woman A). She and the person to her right, at the head of the table (Woman B), were carrying on a rather lively conversation. I noticed that Woman B was dominating. She was a lively speaker and her conversational style was engaging.
After a few minutes, I noticed that Woman B had asked Woman A a question, and Woman A started to respond. What happened next is something I have observed many times in my life: Woman A began her response and Woman B stopped listening, talking to the waiter instead.
Did Woman B ignore her conversation partner on purpose? I don’t think so. It all had to do with the Woman A’s delivery. She responded with too much information. Not only did she go into too much detail, but she told her story in a soft tone of voice and a slow pace. She did not use big hand gestures; she did not punctuate her experiences with strong verbs or a strong voice. Not being heard was probably a blow to Woman A’s self-esteem. But I bet it wasn’t the first time.
Practicing active listening skills is important, regardless of the speaker’s delivery. But if you want to be heard and your words respected, learn how to deliver your message with power and panache.