Larsen’s Words That Don’t Work: “Clearly You’re Not Interested.”

Sadly, I have heard myself say these very words in the past.  And trust me. They are NOT effective.

Consider this scenario:

I want to talk to my husband about something.  He’s at his computer working and I say, “I need to talk to you about something.  Is now a good time?”  He says, “sure.”  I start to talk and notice that he’s still clicking around online, obviously involved in something else.

My first instinct has frequently been to say “You’re not listening” or “Well, clearly you’re not interested” – BOTH of which could be VERY incorrect!  I hate it, but he actually CAN listen while doing something else.  And he definitely is interested in what I have to say, even though he doesn’t always give me the nonverbal cues that I need in order to perceive his interest.

So the FIRST step of my new system was to say, “John, I have something important to talk about.  And while I know that you can listen while still doing things on the computer, that doesn’t work for me.  I need to have eye contact so that I can SEE your response to my words.  Can you give me that attention now or do you need me to come back when you’re finished with that?”

Oooooh. Nice.

And now, having set this as our foundation, all I have to say is, “John, I need to talk and I need your eyeballs.  Is now a good time?

He gets it right away.


Motivational Speaker Linda Larsen, CSP has been described by meeting planners and audiences as "hysterically funny," and "riveting." Known for her ability to connect on an authentic and emotional level with audiences, her spontaneous sense of humor, and her engaging and powerful stories, Linda is passionate about sharing ideas to help people live their finest, best, and most productive lives. Her riveting and true story of being kidnapped and held hostage at gunpoint by an escaped convict, and the strategies she used to escape, will give people the tools THEY need to rise above any of life's toughest challenges, to communicate more effectively with THEIR difficult person, and to find creative solutions to THEIR problems. To book motivational speaker, Linda Larsen: 941-927-4700

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  1. Oooooooooh nice Linda! Having just followed your counsel I saved my self a whole lot of time and suffering.

    On occasion (more often than I’d like) when experiencing interactions like the one you describe, I let myself get caught up in a narrative that shows up with me  heroically suffering and whining (to myself)  about how “the other person obviously doesn’t care… if (s)he did, they’d obviously stop what they were doing and take the time to get present and connect with whatever it is that I care about or want to talk about at the time.”

    So instead of going down that path… 18 minutes ago I said to one of my colleagues “Hey, I know you’ve got A LOT going on right now… I’d really appreciate a few minutes of your undivided attention. Please let me know when you can give that to me.” He stopped what he was doing, looked up and said “how about right now?” We took the time to stop, get present and connect with what we both cared about… we had an incredibly brief and productive conversation that left both of us feeling satisfied and appreciated. A win-win situation. Had I not read your blog, I’m confident that right now I’d be sitting here peeved, heroically suffering and muttering about his lack of care and inability to mind-read :-) (And he’d probably be oblivious to how dissatisfied I was… or why.)

    Thanks Linda! 

  2. Love it! May have mentioned this before but my daughter called me on this behavior when she was 5 years old. She came in to share and  I continued typing on the keyboard. She accused me of not listening. I repeated back verbatim her comments. She replied, “No mommy. You weren’t listening because I couldn’t see your eyes.” She was my motivational speaker that night.

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