Got an employee that won’t listen? Find out how to make sure your message is heard.

Got an employee that won’t listen? Find out how to make sure your message is heard.

Listening is vital in any relationship. When you’re talking about listening in an Employee and Leader relationship, it can make or break a business.

One of the frustrations I hear time and time again when doing Leadership Coaching is that employees just don’t seem to listen, making silly mistakes that could easily be avoided if they’d just heard you.

Or, they miss important details about changes that are taking place in the industry or your company policies.

It may not be a consistent pattern with particular employees, but most Leaders I talk to can think of at least one situation where they felt an employee didn’t listen to them.

Can you? Think of a situation in the last month or two where an employee did something that you explicitly said not to, or DIDN’T do something you asked them to do.

I’ve felt the pain of mistakes happening due to miscommunication too many times for it not to be included in all of my training programmes. Not only does it cause frustration, but it can be a huge drain on business time to correct.

As a Master Practitioner of NLP, I’ve learnt tonnes of incredible techniques and secrets to incredible communication and guaranteeing that messages get through to an audience at the deepest level.

I’ve experienced being a Leader before and after learning NLP, so I know exactly how powerful it can be. So much so, communication techniques and secrets are what I’m most passionate about sharing. I want to help businesses save time and money through improved communication.

That’s why I wanted to write this article. I’ll be covering some of the simplest, yet most effective, methods of guaranteeing that your message is heard and understood.

Two guys talking together about work


If you don’t have rapport, i’m sorry to say that it’s unlikely your message will ever get into their mind for more than the seconds it takes you to say it.

The more relaxed and comfortable someone is with you, the more likely they are to listen to what you’re saying.

When someone has no connection with you, the words you say will go in one ear and out the other. It’ll be as effective as you talking to an empty room.

Whether you’re looking to communicate with employees, or literally anyone in your life, quickly getting into rapport is a hugely useful skill to master.

The essence of rapport is that when people are like each other, they like each other.

Being in rapport (and I mean really good rapport here) is almost like a trance state. It’s relaxed, flowing, and you’re engaged with the other person. When you’re in rapport, even disagreements will dissolve easily.

In the NLP Training courses I do, we have a practical exercise where everyone gets into groups of two. They have to discuss something they agree on (without trying to get into rapport), and then something they disagree on (when they DO have rapport).

Whenever I walk around the room to see how it’s going, everyone looks happiest in the disagreement because the rapport causes a happy state. Everyone is finding reasons to agree with each other other and push the disagreement to the side ASAP. That’s the true power of rapport.

So, if you want your message to be heard without conflict, get the best possible level of rapport before starting.

Now, I’m not going to just leave it there and abandon you without teaching you HOW to get into rapport! It’s easier than you may think, but takes a bit of practice before you get it right.

To get into rapport, you need to become like the other person. This means you need to match the way they communicate verbally and non-verbally. Even energetically if you want to take it to its highest level (although this takes a lot more practice!)

Before I give you the list, it’s important to note that you need to match them gradually and make it look natural, rather then you obviously copying them. That’s not going to relax anyone!

So, to get into rapport you need to match the following:

  • Body positioning
  • Foot positioning
  • Hand gestures
  • Position of head (for example tilt)
  • Seating position
  • Facial expressions
  • Tone of voice
  • Pace of words
  • Pausing and amount of content in each phrase
  • Pitch (where possible)
  • Volume
  • Type of language (Visual, Auditory, Kinaestathic or Auditory Digital)

Even if you just work on a couple of these, the level of rapport you achieve will go up.

Rapport is so important, we’ve written another article on it. If you want to find out more about the secrets of rapport then you can check out our article here!

two colleagues chatting by the workboard

Use Mind-Reads

Another way of achieving rapport is through the language that you use.

To be heard, really heard, you need to communicate in a way that’s received by the deeper mind. To access the unconscious mind (otherwise known as the subconscious), rapport is vital.

Your choice of words is very powerful when building this rapport. If you look at public speakers and celebrities all around the world, you’ll notice that they use artful language to engage their audience.

When you listen closely, you’ll often hear phrasing from a technique called the Milton Model. This is a selection of language patterns that engage the deeper mind. It always makes me laugh a little if I see a celebrity interview on the TV and I can pick out all of the phrases I was taught to use during my NLP training. It’s no surprise people love them!

One of the really powerful language patterns of the Milton Model is a ‘Mind Read’. When it’s done well, it creates almost instant rapport and opens the gates to the mind (figuratively, of course!).

For the information to be retained, the message has to connect with and be absorbed by the subconscious. So whenever you want to guarantee that what you’re saying is going to be remembered, you need to learn how to use this super simple phrasing.

But first…what is a mind read?

A mind read is a simple sentence which captures the possibility of what someone may be thinking, when it’s virtually guaranteed that they ARE thinking it.

That may sound a little confusing, so let me give you an example.

When I run training courses, the first day everyone comes into the room I could use the following mind read.

“You might be wondering what you’ll get from this course”

You may have heard this sort of thing before. Your automatic answer would be, “Well yeah. Of course I am!”. It’s almost guaranteed that everyone will be curious about what they’re going to learn on a course, right?

So it’s a fairly educated guess that that comment is unlikely to create any internal disagreement in people.

The people then receiving the mind read have a moment of agreement, engaging their subconscious so they actually listen to what’s being said.

Depending on the activity, you can choose which mind read would be useful.

If it’s a meeting, the team might be wondering what the purpose of the meeting is. Or why a team meeting has been called.

Or, if someone is stepping into a one-to-one, they might be wondering how it’ll go.

Start to consider where you can use this and notice what happens when you do. Tone is important here, so keep it light and humble. If you start acting assumptive then it’ll bring up their defences.

That’s why I used the word ‘might’ in my example. It’s softer, and less likely to cause conflict if they aren’t thinking that.

Leader talking to employee using NLP techniques

Tonality and embedded commands.

How you use your tone will make or break your success in communication.

Research shows that around 38% of what you communicate is based on the WAY you say something. Only 8% is based on the actual words you say.

As someone who’s an expert in communication, I know this to be completely true!

How you say something matters. Just as much, if not more, than what you say.

In NLP, we learn how to use tonality in different ways to evoke different feelings or reactions.

When you use an embedded command, it’ll stand out in the mind and will be received far easier by the mind.

I’ll never forget this one instance where I was training a sales team and spent 8 hours sharing various tips, techniques, and general information. I used one embedded command near the beginning of the day: “Ambiguity equals risk”.

At the end of the training, I asked what was the key message that they took from the training. Every single one of them said “Ambiguity equals risk”.

This is probably one of the simplest and most effective communication tools I use when I want to make sure someone hears a message I want to convey.

Why does this work?

The subconscious mind works with pictures, sounds, and feelings. When you alter a sound and make it stand out, it’s far more likely to be received and remembered.

How do you do an embedded command?

It’s simpler than you may think!

You say a small sentence in a lower, deeper, and slower tone than the rest of your words. This makes that part stand out.

Here’s an example:

‘Accuracy is really important when doing this kind of work, and it’s really important that you TAKE….YOUR….TIME. If you take your time, you’ll reduce the hassle you experience when you have to correct the mistakes.’

That whole paragraph is a lot to remember. However, the mind can easily learn from and latch on to the embedded command ‘TAKE….YOUR….TIME’.

If the sentences are too long, it decreases the chance of it being retained. So, plan the messages you want to communicate and consider how you can package them up into a nice short, sharp sentence that the mind can receive with ease.

Tag Questions

Tag questions are also from the Milton Model.

These are good for rapport and checking that someone is in agreement with what you’re saying.

It’s as simple as changing a statement into a statement with a question at the end, such as the following:

Statement: If we work together as a team we’ll get more done

With the tag question: If we work together as a team we’ll get more done, won’t we?

So, what’s the difference?

It’s all about how the mind engages with the message.

The statement doesn’t need to be thought about. Their mind doesn’t need to receive the comment and they’ll switch off.

The tag question takes exactly the same information but forces their mind to actually engage with it. They have to consider what you’re asking them and take it in.

It may not seem like much, but we’re hardwired into answering questions when asked or at the very least, thinking about the questions automatically. It makes a surprising amount of difference!

Next time you want to engage someone’s mind, just add a quick tag question such as ‘Right?’, ‘Won’t we?’, or ‘Yes?’ at the end of the statement and you’ll notice more engagement almost instantly.

Leader talking to employee about work that needs to be done

Used well, these 4 communication tools will make your employees listen far more effectively than ever before.

Think about what would happen if all of your employees heard exactly what you said and understood it in the way you intended it? How much more effective could your business be?

How much wasted time could you prevent?!

Communication is paramount to leading a successful business and we wish you every success applying these tips!

The fact you’ve finished this article tells me that you’re taking your communication skills seriously and they’re already going to be at another level because you’re actively seeking out resources to learn more.

If you think your team could use some training in communication and want to have a chat with us to see what we can offer, or just for some free advice on what you should be doing, we’re always happy to discuss what you need.

We’ll always be honest if we’re right for you or not. Even if we don’t think we can help you right now, we’ll make sure that your chat with us has been beneficial for you and your business.

If you want to find out more about identifying and assessing your staff development needs, we have a FREE eBook on identifying training needs in your company which details how to get the best results from your staff development, as well as the options available to you, which you can check out by clicking the link below.

Download Identifying training needs eBook

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