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Are Other People Uncaring, or Just Distracted?

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Business improvement starts with personal improvement. And sometimes it can seem hard to improve when people seem to not care at all about what you have to say. Today’s guest post from Marissa Bracke covers this difficult question.

They’re not uncaring, they’re just… I’m sorry, what were you saying?

It isn’t that others don’t care about what you’re doing. It isn’t that that they don’t care about what you’re saying. Though tell me if this sounds familiar: you’ve got a really great idea to share with your colleagues, or a fantastic suggestion to offer to your boss, or a new product to launch…And you go bounding into the meeting, up to her desk, or enthusiastically press “publish” on the sales page…

And it’s crickets. Blank faces. Dead silence. It sure as hell feels like they don’t care.

Employee Engagement - Distracted

© Flickr user mikecogh

There’s a saying I love: “You wouldn’t worry nearly as much about what other people thought of you, if you knew how seldom they did.” (So true.) But do you know why that’s true? It’s true because people are too busy thinking about themselves to spend much time thinking about you.

They’re thinking about whether what they said to their boss came out wrong, or whether they had a big hunk of spinach in their teeth when they did that quick preso right after lunch today. They’re thinking about what they’re going to do for lunch tomorrow, what they’re going to blog about today, how much they’re going to charge for the new service they’re unveiling soon, whether their son is going to pass his chemistry test, how early they have to leave to make their appointment tomorrow if road construction is bad…

There just ain’t a lot of headspace left to spend thinking about you. (No offense.) This isn’t a missive about why everyone is uncaring, though. Because they’re not. If anything, we probably all care way too much about way too much, which is precisely why we all have so little headspace left to be thinking about anything else.

What this is, is a reminder that when you’re talking (or writing) to someone, you’ve got to make it clear why they should listen (or read). And you do that by making it clear why it’s important to them.

Which is easy to forget, because you already know why it’s important — otherwise you wouldn’t have started telling them about it. But see, your listener doesn’t know that yet. And she’s sitting there with that whole slew of worries and maybes and what-ifs and could-bes and whether-this and if-thats running through her head, and it isn’t that she flat out doesn’t want to care about what you’re saying… it’s just that you’re competing with an awful lot that’s already there. So if you don’t make it really clear that what you’re saying …

  • is pertinent specifically to her,
  • is useful specifically to her, and
  • needs to be heard specifically by her right now,

…she’s likely to tune you out.

Or to hear you…and promptly stop thinking about you two seconds later. Not because she doesn’t care, but because unless you make it compellingly clear that what you’re saying is important to her, it’s just not going to rank above the other 8,472 items fighting for attention in her head.

Marissa BrackeIf you want someone to care about what you’re saying, you have to take it from being something exciting to you and turn it into something important to them. Important enough to register through all of the other melee in their head. You make them care by making what you’re saying important to them.

And you make it important to them by making it about them. (Not about you, not about the cool new idea — about them, and how you and the cool new idea help them.) Once it’s about them, then they care a whole lot about you… but only when you make it about them first.

Marissa Bracke helps solo- and micro- preneurs build and grow prominent, profitable and successful businesses. She is known and trusted for her Straight Scoop Guarantee: all advice and resources provided are always Real World Tested, Reality Checked, and Delivered without the Smoke ‘n Mirrors. To get fired up and get down to business each week with FREE insiders’ tips straight from Marissa, sign up at

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