Tuesday 7 February 2017 4:31 am

How to be heard and influence people: Active listening

Have you recently been overlooked for a promotion that seemed perfect for you?

Or do you struggle to make yourself heard and understood in meetings? You know what you need to say, you have a clear script in your head and you explain your thoughts perfectly. But your boss just doesn’t seem to see your point of view.

It could be that you need guidance – not in presenting, but in listening.

Influencing your managers and directors, as well as team members, is an important element of a successful career. There are varied aspects of influencing people, which ultimately come down to listening.Really listening.

Being heard is so important. In life as well as in the workplace. You may think you’re getting your point of view across eloquently; your script is firmly embedded in your mind to encourage and persuade the other person. Then, once presented, you wait for that pat on the back and the congratulations. But none are forthcoming. Why?


It could be that you’ve had a fixed idea in your head for so long that you feel sure is the perfect answer to a certain issue, and that no-one could better it. But it was met with a confused silence, non-committal statements or, even worse, you got into an argument or it ended up in a stalemate situation. Perhaps your manager then drew the meeting to a swift close and you were left bewildered as to why they couldn’t see the genius behind your thoughts.


If the above scenario is familiar, it’s highly likely that you decided to give a presentation of your ideas without having had a discussion with your manager about the situation first. Having a discussion and really listening to the other person’s point of view is crucial to get to a point of mutual understanding and, ultimately, respect. Especially if you want your manager to trust you, and be inspired and influenced by you. Being more flexible in discussions helps to find out what your manager really wants or needs, for you to then adapt your winning ideas to their way of thinking.

Pitching ideas indiscriminately without first listening to your manager is bound to put you on a losing wicket.

For the seed of an idea to take root and flourish in the minds of others, you need to get into their minds first.

How do you do that? With active listening. This skill takes time and practice to achieve easily, but it is worth learning for many aspects of your life – not just at work, but your home and family life too.

When active listening, you need to concentrate on what others are saying to fully understand their needs. Make affirmative noises, ask questions, reflect back.

Gauge emotions

Emotions are a big part of business, whether we like it or not. We all have them, even if some of us try hard not to show them. Keep in mind that emotions can drive our rational thoughts too.

So when changes need to be planned, or important decisions need to be made, use your intuition to gauge the emotion behind your manager’s rationale. Again, active listening will help here.

Use your intuition to read body language; be aware of a change in tone of voice and stance. This awareness will help you to know whether you’re going down the right track or losing your audience.

Equally, be aware of your own body language. It can take seconds for someone to formulate an opinion of you, as in a job interview, or even a date. Body language can make or break you – if you don’t believe in what you’re saying, it will show and you won’t be taken seriously.

Richard Reid is chief executive and clinical director of Pinnacle Therapy