Is Anybody Listening?

many talk but few listen

When People Don’t Want to Listen…

Posted on | April 3, 2014 | No Comments

When this happens it is time to pause and take stock…

What could be going wrong? In reality there could be a whole lot of reasons, many of which we have discussed already. But to clarify what we mean here  Рit is about people who deliberately refuse to listen.

In other words, there is something else going on here that we need to understand. It brings us back to the over-riding need that we have to understand our audience…

Here are three possible reasons:

  • They have pre-judged what we want to say
  • They know that what we want to say will make them feel uncomfortable
  • They dismiss us as lacking any credibility with them

Each of these is serious and suggests that we have a lot of work to do to turn this around…

First, we could simply ‘shake the dust off our feet’ and give up…. The cost of doing this would need to be assessed. It depends how much we care – and how important our message…

The second option would be far more demanding – but potentially rewarding. We find a creative way of first getting their attention and then getting through to them…

And that is where the creativity comes in… ¬†Cast your own mind back to those instances when you have been drawn into watching TV programs, or listening to radio programs – or even a speaker… What was it that engaged your attention?

Analysing the success of the BBC TV cooking series The Great British Bakeoff critics were suggesting the various elements that contributed to it drawing such a huge audience. They listed many – but one in particular caught my attention. It was the element of intrigue. Intrigue is that element where something is going on in the background – or beneath the surface – that rouses our curiosity and interest. It is the same kind of thing that drew my grandmother into becoming an avid follower of The Archers – an everyday story of country folk. Going back even further it was Jesus’ favourite way of communicating – through parables. These described regular everyday situations his listeners could relate to – but with a twist. There was also a paradox in the story.

In more modern times we might recall the on-going fascination with The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis. He was the master of allegory and his stories have intrigued children and adults alike for fifty years or more. C.S. Lewis understood that allegory was a brilliant way of getting behind the barriers. Surrounded by a host of sceptics himself in the academic environment of Oxford University he found ways to put across Christian realities and the possibility of other dimensions of life by telling stories, stories that would intrigue, because their meaning was not immediately obvious.

We could write a whole book on this fascinating topic, but for the people of today impacted by post-modernism and the scepticism it encourages, this may be what it takes to get people’s attention and get them listening.

It could be a long haul…


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