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No One Listens to Me!

No One Listens to Me!


Dear Rachel,

I feel very frustrated and angry because I don’t feel listened to. Sometimes, I feel invisible as I try to talk to people (friends, family, customer-service people), and I have to yell to make myself heard.

I consider myself to be a very attentive listener, but as soon as it is my turn to talk, people start reading, checking their phones or talking about something completely unconnected to what I’m trying to say. I make eye contact when I talk to people and respond to what they say, or at least acknowledge them by nodding my head and making sounds that show I’m interested. I give other people feedback and encouragement.

Why is it so hard for people to reciprocate? Or do people just not care?


Nobody Listening

Dear Listening,

I hear you! I hear that you don’t feel heard, listened to or understood. That’s a basic human need. Ironically, that’s why people are so obsessive about checking their phones. They want connection, and in this era of 1.5-second attention spans, it’s very hard for people to do so. They’re easily distracted, and communication has become superficial instead of deep.

That’s one of the perks of keeping Shabbat: Everyone around you is disconnected from their technology IV drips.

One day, you may find someone you can connect with on a deep level. In the meantime, I want to offer a few thoughts and suggestions:

  • The wise King Solomon said: “The words of the wise are heard softly.”1In order to be heard, try speaking more softly. Nothing gets people’s attention quite like whispering. People are turned off by yelling, and while I understand your frustration, it won’t help get you heard.
  • The fact that you model good listening is certainly praiseworthy, and when it comes to family and friends, eventually your technique will rub off. But we can’t expect others to be able to do what we do as successfully. Try to respect other people’s limited ability to concentrate on what you say. Provide empathy and understanding, and adjust your speech accordingly.
  • You can also try saying, “I’m sorry, I can see you’re busy. I won’t interrupt you. Let me know when you’re available to listen.” They’ll get the message.
  • Sometimes, people are listening (and caring) even if they’re not making eye contact.
  • Try not to see it as a personal affront when others do not listen with full attention. Unfortunately, listening is a lost art, and the reason many people seek out therapists. And that was true long before cell phones. It’s hard to find people who really know how to listen.
  • Try another outlet of expression that isn’t dependent on others. Keep a journal, write lyrics to a song, write a letter to the editor. Talk to yourself (maybe not too loudly) about your thoughts and feelings. Take a public speaking or acting course.
  • Last, but certainly not least, the best listener of all is G‑d. You’ll find a great audience when you speak or pray to Him. And He’s always available, 24/7.

Thank you for writing and listening!


Rosally Saltsman is a freelance writer originally from Montreal living in Israel. Click here to email Rosally.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Shoshanah September 27, 2017

Nobody Listening I agree with all of you and face the same dilemma...I think that in our immediate communities we are supposed to be the listeners and model this behavior...However, I agreee with one of the commentators that said, she has s unique personaliy and opinions that aren't widely accepted. After meditating on this, I think we are supposed to cast a wider net. Maybe we need to seek out opportunities and outlets beyond our communities whom would relish in what we have to say...wether it be a blog, a study group of some sort it a for thought. Reply

Missie Atlanta January 18, 2017

During the holidays an outside group came to the apartment building where I live, for a small reception. I enjoyed chatting with some of these people and had an opportunity to listen to one of the women who wanted to do more than just chat. Not a long monologue, just talk. So I stood there and listened to her. I thought about what I was doing, and what she was saying, and I started to enjoy giving her my time and my attention. Normally I would have wanted my "turn" to talk too, but this time I decided to just listen. She seemed to enjoy talking to me and I felt good listening. It wasn't easy, but I chose to try. Reply

Anonymous NY January 17, 2017

This has happened to me for years. When I am one on one it is fine- I have their attention however if a third party arrives they can jump in and the original person will turn their attention to the new person-sometimes changing the subject completely. Also in a group I find I cannot garner the attention as others do. Reply

Erika kish B.C. August 1, 2016

Thank you Rachel , for encouraging words of wisdom. I can identify with everyone's writing in. Perhaps the problem is me, expecting to much from others . Maby Hashem wants me to be a good listener ,because No one is listening anymore. Actually be Greatful ,coming closer to Hashem bringing my requests to him. As for other people , Wispering even in today's noisy world is powerful enough. Reply

barbara strudler Manhattan, NY July 31, 2016

Advice for someone who feels she's not listened to Dear Ms. Saltsman: You give helpful, caring and detailed advice to the person who feels unlistened to, especially the point about speaking more softly (not a good tactic for public
speakers altho widely thought to be by themselves) and asking tactfully when conversation would be convenient. However, the main point, the cause of being ignored, isn't and
can't be addressed without your seeing the questioner in action. Whatever it is that her interlocutors sense about her, it's a constant occurrence, one that will bother her all her life. In Hamlet's words, "How all occasions do informagainst me." What you can't tell her is that some people are just ineffective although they be brighter, kinder and more attentive than those who garner attention maybe even with inanity or unrefined speech. Advice: don't talk and talk; don't keep asking questions;rather, remark on info (ex., That camp has exceptionally varied activities for your daughter. Folks like to expand on subjects they've brought up. Reply

Cheryl New Jersey July 29, 2016

Thank you for this insightful article. Today as I was trying to speak to my heart Doctor, his only response was, "I don't know what to say," repeatedly as I was trying to explain why I experience chest pains. Thank G-d my stress test didn't identify any serious problems, but he was obviously avoiding answering me with any clarity. I said goodbye and attributed his response to avoiding becoming involved in my personal life. He is very young & perhaps didn't know the correct response. I was hoping that he could suggest some techniques to deal with my particular problem. I will locate a new doctor in the future. Reply

Anyaegbunam, Jerome Enugu, Eastern Nigeria July 28, 2016

(1) People don't listen to you because your opinion is not in agreement with their own opinions. You have your own personality which makes you see things in a certain way. Unfortunatley your views are not in consonace with the mainstream view held by the society. In that case others will not be interested in what you are saying
(2) People will not listen to you if they believe you are not experienced enough to be knowledgeable about life in general. When you talk try and chip in statements like "when I was in California....., In 2006 I owned a Toyota Camry 2004 model that got smashed.....,...." When people undestand you are well travelled and have money they tend to respect you more and listen to your opinions. That is why deceitful people tend to attract more friends to themselves. Reply

Missie Atlanta July 27, 2016

I Hear Your Pain, "Nobody Listening" I often feel the same way. I have been told I'm a good listener, and I try to be one, but I often feel no one else listens to me.
Just the other day, a neighbor called me because we wanted to talk about our concerns about a friend or ours, whom we are worried about. At least I thought it was going to be a dialogue. I quickly realized neighbor wasn't hearing a thing I was saying when I was able to get a word in edgewise. Sheh wasn't listening, and I realized she had called, not to converse, but to vent. I ended the monologue as quickly as I could and came away feeling hurt and frustrated.
Rachel, what you said about G-d being a great listener is spot-on! I have been turning to Him when there is no one else to talk to, and the more I do this, the more I realize He is really here listening. I've always "believed" it and now I'm realizing it. Reply

Carola Gold Coast Australia July 27, 2016

No-one listening to add to this discussion - i have found when listening to someone's conversation that eventually they will say to me & 'what about you what's happening...' or 'what do you think'.
so i proceed to get talking & about 1 minute into my conversation people frequently say 'oh yes that happened to me...' or 'that reminds me of...' & then they proceed to pull the conversation back to themselves. i feel like getting a cardboard cut-out of myself & leave it on the chair as most people seem to be very self-interested.

so a while ago i decided if people don't want to listen to me then i won't bother talking & just stay a listener. Reply

Erika Kish Can B.C. July 26, 2016

Me as well, I'm a real attentive listener, the reason I Know , is people tell me so. before I know friends even strangers will trust me with there innermost secrets , and pouring there hearts out to me at lengthy time. An that's o.k. I know I m helping.
But when ever I start to talk, people start yawning , checking phones , talking to someone else ,needing to go to the washroom, I'm left standing , I guess it's o.k. I don't expect nothing, but it would be nice if at least one person be interested, I'll just start whispering. 😶 Reply

MARÍA PÉREZ Puebla,. Mexico July 26, 2016

exatly a few minutes I was thinking why my housband don´t like to pay atention for I what I say or care about my feelings, sometimes my needs, why I Look like invisible to people some times, thanks to Hashem, I enter to the Jewish woman article, and Hashem give me the answer. thank you Rachel. Hashem bless you forever.
Mary fro Puebla, México Reply

sharing the matzav israel July 26, 2016

Dear Nobody Listening yes, me too. although i am not a shouter and i don't get angry. i tell myself it must be related to a previous incarnation. maybe i didn't listen to others. or maybe Hashem has given me this situation in my life to help me not waste words on idle chatter. only Hashem knows why. thanks for sharing. maybe when i feel frustrated i can turn it into sending good thoughts your way. may you find true happiness in your life. Reply

Judy Atlanta, GA July 25, 2016

Me, too! Thank you "Listening" for the question.
Thank you Rachel for the reply with many options, especially the last one! I really needed to hear them! Reply

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