How To Deal With Someone Who Won’t Listen

James McPherson

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Why do we argue? According to psychology today, “Because the social interactions difficult people have are typically filled with frustration or tension, difficult people come to see others as threats or opponents. Accordingly, they see social situations as interactions that produce either a winner or a loser.”

During the past few years, I have gotten into arguments several times. They’re totally normal. I’ve recently learned several strategies to help me practice emotional restraint more effectively during a discussion when someone doesn’t listen. Each of them improved my ability to communicate. Hopefully, they will do the same for you, too.

Be empathetic to the other person.

No matter what you’re discussing, make sure you respect your opponent. There is no point lashing out and raising tensions. After all, those types of actions can negatively impact your relationships. Quoting an article published by Psychology Today:

“Don’t threaten your relationship, and don’t take every argument as a threat to your relationship. This type of emotional blackmail puts the other partner in a panic/fight or flight mode. While you’re telling them you want to leave, they may be making plans to find a roommate. In addition, they may be so devastated by the thought of losing their family they can go into a deep depression and be unable to give you what it is you need.”

Whenever I have conversations with confrontational people who won’t listen, I always respect the person I’m talking to. Instead of lashing out and raising tensions, I try to be empathetic and calm — even when they raise their voice. Implementing this strategy has made it much easier to defuse tensions during a heated conversation.

Consider doing the same. Practice empathy, kindness, and compassion. The impact it could have on your ability to communicate could be profound.

Make improvements, not excuses. Seek respect, not attention.”
Roy T. Bennett

Avoid The Desire To Patronize.

If you have the wrong information during a conversation, you could look like an idiot. So if you want to be taken seriously by someone who won’t listen, it’s vital to know what you’re talking about.

Similarly, if the other person is spreading misinformation, try to treat them with respect — instead of patronizing them. Quoting an article published by The Conversation:

“Instead of treating the conversation as a corrective lecture, treat the other person as an equal partner in the discussion. One way to create that common bond is to acknowledge the shared struggles of locating accurate information. Saying that there is a lot of information circulating can help someone feel comfortable changing their opinion and accepting new information, instead of resisting and sticking to their previous beliefs to avoid admitting they were wrong.”

A few months ago, a friend recommended that I try a weight-loss method — despite it being proven to be a fad. But instead of patronizing them and making my friend feel insecure about their opinions, I used a different strategy. Specifically, I mentioned that there are loads of weight-loss strategies that work for different people. Thus, I will do what works for me.

When I used this strategy, my friend was totally understanding, and any tension quickly faded away. So if you ever find yourself in a conversation with someone who won’t listen, it’s important to know your facts and be respectful to the other person.

“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”― Roy T. Bennett

Ask interesting questions.

When you take an interest in someone, they are much more likely to reciprocate. After all, we tend to become interested in people who show genuine interest in us. Dale Carnegie said it best:

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

For example, you could ask the other person to clarify their point, so you understand their perspective in greater detail. When you seek to understand others, the chances of having a misunderstanding drastically reduce.

Since I started implementing this strategy, I’ve found it much easier to understand the other person’s perspective during a conversation. After all, I try to be curious, so I can understand where they’re coming from.

Consider doing the same. Ask interesting questions. Become intellectually curious about whatever they have to say. Although it might seem like a simple strategy, the effect it’ll have on your conversations will be profound.

Respect each other's differences in opinion.

“It’s okay to disagree with each other, what’s not okay is to hate each other because we disagree.”― Abhijit Naskar

Chances are, you come from different backgrounds or have different life experiences. But disagreements are okay. They’re natural, healthy, and help us to challenge our own perspectives on life.

I have a few conservative friends. However, we respect each other’s differences since we come from different regions of the country. As David Ludden writes in Psychology Today:

“The region where you grew up is a strong predictor of your political orientation in adulthood, but again there are plenty of exceptions. If you were raised in rural Georgia or Arkansas, you’re likely quite conservative, and yet these regions also produced two Democratic presidents — Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Likewise, New Yorkers are notoriously liberal, yet our current Republican president hails from the Big Apple.”

Try to be open-minded. Respect each other’s differences in opinion. Be empathetic to each other's views, and remember that it’s okay to have disagreements. Implementing this strategy will make it much easier to listen to each other during a conversation.

Conclusion.

Be empathetic to the other person. Know your facts during a conversation. Ask interesting questions. Respect each other’s differences in opinion.

None of this advice is particularly complicated. But once implemented, the effect it’ll have on your ability to communicate will be profound. So what are you waiting for?

Start now.

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