“No One Listens to Me!” How to Express and Defend Your Point of View as an Adult?

How to Express and Defend

Often we have the feeling that we aren’t being heard. In family, work, and other communication. It’s painful but not hopeless. Everyone is in this situation, and it’s realistic to learn how to be persuasive and correctly draw attention to your feelings and thoughts.

Where Does the Feeling of Not Being Heard Come From?

The source of this feeling is subjective interpretation. That is, we feel inside ourselves that people are rejecting, judging, or ignoring our feelings. In highly anxious people, this feeling may be constant. For others, it occurs from time to time in specific domestic or work situations.

Either way, the feeling of being ignored is pretty heavy. The person feels isolated rather than in contact with those to whom he or she reaches out and wants to receive adequate response and attention.

The internal causes of this feeling are:

  • A person’s low self-esteem. If you internally believe that your opinion isn’t meaningful, people will “read” this and react accordingly. 
  • Low self-confidence. A person who lacks self-confidence in general or in a particular situation usually cannot express his thoughts clearly and concisely. So, people don’t find him or her persuasive.
  • Lack of skill in expressing his thoughts. Some people need to learn how to be persuasive. Some develop this skill on their own, and some should practice it like any other thing.

Don’t write off all situations when you aren’t taken seriously, solely on your own shortcomings in communication. There are many external reasons why a person can “get ignored”.

External reasons:

  • It’s unpleasant to admit, but there are societal biases. For example, about women’s competence in betting at Bet22 or major renovations. It will take a lot of extra effort for you to be heard on issues that are “masculine” in the public mind if you are a woman. And vice versa.
  • If you are in a work meeting and your opinion contradicts that of your supervisor, the team won’t support you in most cases. Similarly, numerous experiments show that in a collective people laugh at the jokes of someone who has authority and in other ways show their loyalty.
  • There are also predetermined roles in the family. Depending on how relationships are structured in a particular family, you may find that you aren’t heard simply because you are the little sister and “that’s just the way it is”.

It’s important to clearly understand in each situation why you cannot defend your opinion. The reasons are always different and shouldn’t be taken solely on personal account.

Don’t expect yourself to be able to be a leader and convince people in every situation. It’s worth it to set manageable tasks and improve the quality of communication with people so that you feel comfortable.

What Are the Reasons Why You Aren’t Heard in Different Situations?

At Home, in the Family

We suffer especially badly when we aren’t heard by our loved ones. However, even here it isn’t always the fault of the one who cannot defend himself. But family members are also not completely “to blame”. Let’s look at the typical reasons for this situation.

Family dynamics. Certain family roles or dynamics can inadvertently silence certain family members. This can relate to cultural traditions or the way of life in a particular family. For example, a parent may consider a child’s feelings irrelevant or not understand them because of generational differences or lack of shared experiences.

Lack of time for deep communication. If family discussions are always rushed or distracted, it can lead to the feeling that you aren’t being heard. And that goes for every member of the family when you can’t find the time, when you’re not distracted by anything, to immerse yourself in each other’s problems and interests.

Ineffective communication styles. Some family members may communicate in a passive or passive-aggressive manner that causes others to ignore or dismiss their thoughts and feelings. Not everyone is willing to work on themselves and change the baggage they inherited from their parents. Sometimes a person’s manner doesn’t match what they really feel and think, and a defensive reaction is triggered. And even if we know that a person will always help, in emotional moments he or she makes cruel jokes, we feel resentful.

At Work, in a Team

For many of us, work is a significant part of life. So, an unnoticed role in the team can be hurtful and traumatizing. Why are we not heard at work?

Organizational culture.  If an organization has a hierarchical culture where decisions are made only at the top, employees may feel that their contributions aren’t valued. Not all organizations have mechanisms where every employee can express their opinion and influence some uncomfortable processes. If this is important to you, try to choose organizations where this process is in place.

Bias and discrimination. If an employee feels overlooked because of gender, age, race, or any other form of bias, it can also lead to a feeling of not being heard or understood. It’s extremely unfortunate that in many teams there is bias and a person’s qualifications and work qualities aren’t at the top of the list when it comes to collective decision-making.

How to Make Yourself Heard?

Sort yourself out. Accept your negative feelings. Yes, it’s painful and hurtful to feel like you aren’t being heard.

Try to understand others. People will be willing to hear you when you initially set yourself up to understand them. Yes, it can be difficult, but this mindset takes the pressure off even those who are used to “pushing” and not listening to others.

Master the techniques of communication. “Me-messages,” in which you talk about yourself and your feelings without implicit or explicit reproach and accusation, help you to be heard.

Master nonverbal communication techniques. Often we need to watch what we communicate to people about ourselves using our bodies. Do we hold a confident posture, do we make contact with our eyes, can we speak in a confident voice?

Active listening. Active listening techniques can help to put people at ease, help them to release tension, and be heard.

Emotion regulation techniques. Learn techniques to manage strong emotions that can arise from feeling like you aren’t being heard. This could be counting to ten before responding or using “grounding techniques” to stay calm and collected.

Define personal boundaries. You need to define for yourself what cannot be done to you in relation to your time, personal space, and emotional space. Communicating in a “me-message” format, “I don’t like people swearing in front of me,” is perfectly fine. And people will hear it if you are calm and firm.

These strategies are interrelated and work best when applied together. Yes, you need to practice constantly, not expect yourself to dramatically improve the quality of your communication, and be patient with yourself throughout this process. Feelings of not being heard can be deeply rooted and can take time to overcome.

Practical Exercises

Active Listening

You can learn active listening through simple exercises.

Paraphrasing. In this exercise, talk to someone about a topic that interests you. After the person speaks, paraphrase what they are saying to make sure you understand correctly. This practice improves your listening skills and shows the person speaking that you appreciate what they are saying.

Silent listening. During a conversation, try to remain silent and attentive while the person you are talking to speaks for a certain amount of time. This exercise will help you learn to listen without interrupting and formulate responses after fully understanding the speaker’s point of view.

Expression of Feelings

Emotion diary. Every day, write down situations that triggered strong emotions in you and how you felt. Over time, this practice will help you understand your emotional triggers and better express those feelings when needed.

Self-messages. Practice “self-messages.” For example, instead of saying, “You’re ignoring me,” say, “I feel ignored when I’m interrupted during a conversation.”

Role reversal. Choose a situation in which you felt unheard. Replay this situation with a friend or family member, but switch roles. This practice can open up new perspectives and help you understand how others may perceive your communication.

Setting Boundaries

Boundary map. Take a piece of paper and write down what you are comfortable with and what you aren’t comfortable with in different contexts (work, home, social interactions). This exercise will help you identify your personal boundaries.

Scenarios of boundaries. Develop scenarios for different situations in which you may need to assert your boundaries. For example, “I value our relationship, but I need some time to myself. Let’s reschedule our meeting.” By practicing these scenarios, you can prepare yourself to communicate your boundaries effectively.

If you’re having trouble practicing important skills on your own, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A psychologist can help you practice your communication skills. But you can also take a different route. For example, find a hobby that boosts your self-confidence and ability to express yourself.