Do people listen when you speak, no matter what? No one, not even I, can answer “yes.” The truth is, not every single person you meet will listen 100% of the time. Maybe they listen to you 70%, 50%, or 30%. I want to help raise that percentage by around 40% or more, depending where you are now.
We can utilize several tools and tactics for speaking; all of which make people listen to and receive your message. When you speak, you want to have proper tone, pacing, pausing, diction, content, and body language.
When speaking, the way you put inflections on words and phrases matters even more than the words and phrases themselves. Bad orators talk in a monotone—with no variation in tone—they have no enthusiasm, no energy, and no fun. People do not like listening to boring speech; people enjoy action.
In fact, enthusiasm is so important that if you cannot bring yourself to speak enthusiastically about a topic, do not bother talking about it at all. I’m not kidding. I would rather see you silent than boring. After all, silence has a certain appeal half the time.
When you speak to anyone, whether to a large crowd or a few friends; tone is vitally important. Now, what tonal pattern, or series of inflections, should you use? How enthusiastic should you be? We walk these fine lines every time we speak; we have three main tonal patterns in our toolkit; Up-Speak, Neutral, and Down-Speak.
This is the tonal pattern for asking a question; the last few words of the sentence go up in pitch. This tonal pattern is associated with seeking rapport, which kills attraction. Avoid using this intonation when attempting to build Attraction.
This gets confused with monotone—let’s make that distinction clear now: Neutral merely means that you end your sentence on the pitch with which you began. Monotone implies no change in tone ever. Neutral neither builds nor breaks rapport, and may be used at any point.
This breaks rapport: the last word or two of the sentence go down in pitch. This tonal pattern makes the speaker come across as authoritative and high value. Use this pattern when asking questions while building attraction.
Note—Most of us use a combination of Up-Speak and Neutral tonal patterns. Learning how to use Down-Speak may take time, since you probably rarely use it. So, as practice, say the sentence “Who are you?” in all three patterns out loud right now. Notice what the patterns imply about your value.
Don’t confuse speaking enthusiastically with speaking quickly.
When someone talks quickly, it is not only annoying, but also undecipherable. First of all, in loud places, peripheral noise blocks out much of what we say, so if you want people to be able to understand you, you have to speak slowly.
When parts of what you say are cut out by background noise, the listener needs to fill those gaps in through a subconscious process called phonemic reconstruction. This takes energy and isn’t nearly 100% accurate. Make listening easy by speaking slowly in loud places.
Also, even in quiet places, speaking quickly seems uptight and nervous; we are aiming for laid back and in control.
Not to mention, speaking quickly is a rapport seeking activity. Some guys think that the routines and lines they learn are magic, and that if a girl hears them, she’ll be hooked. Sorry, that is just not how this works. Speaking slowly, though, shows how little you care, how high value you are, how calm and collected you are, and how not afraid to be interrupted you are (because no one interrupts you). Practice talking a little slower and slower each day. You should notice a difference in how well people listen to you within a week.
Cicero, Kennedy, Churchill, King Jr., Hitler—What do they have in common? They are among the top speakers of all time, and guess what—they all used pauses. I suggest you use them, too.
Pauses allow a speaker to accentuate words, think for a second, create suspense, and draw in listeners. Why do you think we have moments of silence, instead of moments of yelling, when tragedies happen? Silence, and pauses, are powerful.
We have only so much time in our lives; we try to use it efficiently by texting, using drive-throughs, reading summaries, and outsourcing our work. So, when you pause, you show that you haven’t a care in the world; you show that you are (pause) free.
Pauses not only create a dramatic effect, but they also allow our listeners to reflect on what we are saying. If you tell a story that composes of many facts, you may lose your listeners if you do not pause:
Hey, can I get your help with something? (pause) So, I owe my friend a big one, because he’s done me a lot of favors. (pause) And it’s his one year anniversary with his girlfriend tomorrow, (pause) but he hates shopping. (pause) So he gave me one hundred dollars to buy a present for him (pause) for her. (pause) I’ve looked everywhere, I’ve been here all day (pause), but I CANNOT find anything for her. (pause) Can you help me out?
Most people use the guttural noises “ummm,” “uhhhh,” and “errr,” or the words “like,” “so,” and “and,” to fill up gaps in speech; you use pauses. Keep track of how many times the sounds and words listed above meaninglessly come out of your mouth every day; try to cut it down to zero over the course of the next week.
The words you use impact how well people listen to you. For example, you would not talk to the Queen of England with the same vocabulary you use to talk to your friends, nor would you talk to your pet cat, Tom, the same way you would talk to your English teacher.
Speak with a vocabulary that makes you sound intelligent (to keep people from questioning your authority) but not overly intelligent (to avoid intimidating people).
Also, be careful of the connotation of the words you use; while the dictionary may give a very neutral definition of a word, people may have placed a positive or negative association with it. So, even though ‘chick’ seems completely acceptable to you, many girls do not appreciate being called ‘chick’. You can, however, use connotation to your advantage; try to use only positive words, even when speaking about negative topics. Use euphemisms, and people will start thinking of you as a generally upbeat guy, who puts off good vibes.
Note—Some people do not like cussing, some think of cussing as a willingness to be open; calibrate accordingly. If you normally cuss, do it once relatively early—use a minor cuss—and observe people’s reaction to it. If you sense any discomfort, you may want to limit yourself. Continuing to cuss does not break rapport, it reveals a difference in basic values, which may or may not ruin all chances of success.
What you say, though not the most important thing, does matter. Similar to cussing, you want to monitor the topics into which you delve. I have ruined too many relationships by discussing my religious and political views; do not make my mistake—avoid seriously controversial topics.
Here’s a list of topics you may want to eschew:
Once again, this list barely touches the surface; watch out for any discomfort in her while voicing your opinions. This does not mean, however, that you should ever, under any circumstances, change your opinions to fit hers. It merely means that you want to pick your battles.
You always want to have open body language, especially when speaking. If you close your body language, then you shut out your audience. Shut-out listeners do not receive information well (if at all), and they are far more likely to either disagree with or walk away from you.
So, what should you do? Flash your palms, spread your legs, stand or sit asymmetrically, don’t cross your arms, and most importantly, be relaxed.