It can be exasperating when you’re trying to communicate with someone, but you know that what you are saying is “going in one ear and out the other.” You might recognise someone, or even a group of people in your business who remind you of the guy in our picture.

You might be offering advice, or giving instructions on how to complete a task, or some other aspect of operations or procedures which is vitally important to the correct running of the business. However, it seems the other person has made up his or her mind already, or thinks their way is the best way and won’t entertain any other points of view. When that happens, as with all things, you have a choice. You can either throw your hands up in the air and walk away or be patient and make the effort to ensure they eventually take your message on board.

There are occasions when you can almost forgive your listener’s deliberate obtuseness or “selective” hearing. I can’t imagine there’s a parent out there who hasn’t uttered the words “Are you sure you want to do that? Have you tried doing it this way… ?” as they watch their child ignore the blindingly obvious negative consequences of an ill-considered undertaking.

I remember being 16 and confidently dismissing my father’s opinion that there were less perilous ways of cleaning the chain of my motorbike than by holding an oily rag around it with one hand while releasing the clutch with the other. There was a surprisingly small time lag between my hand getting dragged towards the teeth of the sprocket, and the realisation that the old man had a point!

In the workplace, though, the reasons that people don’t, or won’t, listen cannot be explained away by the misplaced confidence of youth. Instead, it can be attributed to such things as arrogance, pride, defensiveness, or an unwillingness to admit to mistakes. It has a lot to do with their own individual behavioural profile, which dictates how amenable they are to interacting and communicating properly with others. People with similar profiles tend to communicate better than those with different profiles. Knowing the profiles which people conform to can do a lot to alleviate some of the issues referred to earlier.

If your current approach is not delivering the kind of results you would like, why not try one or two of these alternative techniques:

Ask open questions to allow your colleagues to do the talking, and you become a good listener yourself.

Ask for their point of view on the subject – they, in turn, will be more inclined to listen to your suggestions.

Take responsibility for the situation. Try to put yourself in their shoes and try to understand the other person’s lack of engagement if you can.  As Steven Covey says, “Seek first to understand, then be understood.”

1. Get to know the person if you can and find out as much background information as you can. This will help you to understand why they might be behaving in the way they are.

2. Try to explain what you want in different way – some people need lots of detail and explanation than others might before they can decide to go with you (or go against you, for that matter).

3. Listen to them. Try to understand their viewpoint and how things might seem from their perspective.

4. Create meaningful relationships with the people in your workforce. This will build trust and lead to much better teamwork and shared goals.

4. Allow for silence. don’t always be the one to fill the space.

5.Use emotional intelligence to make the right connection with individuals.

Some of this is not easy to do but knowing your own profile and communication preference whilst understanding the other profiles with which you will come into contact is a great step in the right direction.

Your Ology Coach can help to improve your communication skills by providing your own individual DISC profile and guiding you as you develop productive relationships with others.

And always remember that if all else fails, good wine is a great way of opening up the lines of communication as well!!

For a no obligation discussion of the issues outlined in this article, contact your local Ology coach. We are waiting to hear from you.