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Forcing anyone to do anything is never a good move.
But it's especially true when it comes to forcing people to talk to you.
Today you're going to learn the top reasons why this is a bad idea.
You'll also learn what you can do instead.
Why You Should Never Force Anyone to Talk to You
1. Consider the Ideal Relationship
What's an ideal relationship?
Well, people will vary a bit on this, but for me, it's a relationship where each person can feel heard, understood, and respected.
A healthy relationship has to be mentally healthy.
That means you need to do a bit of brain judo to get inside the other person's mind.
If that seems difficult, start with yourself.
What do you need to feel heard, understood, and respected?
You probably need someone to listen to you.
You probably need someone who will be kind to you.
And when you think about all the qualities that a relationship needs, I'm sure you never think about someone forcing you to do something.
Because force is not communication, plain and simple.
2. Communication is More Complicated Than You Think
A lot of people think communication is this:
"I said something, so they should have understood it. If not, they just weren't listening."
Unfortunately, that's not quite how it goes.
It's only truly communication when the other person has received and understood the message in the way that you intended it to be understood.
To do this, you have to know a thing or two about communication styles--more specifically, the communication style of the person you're trying to get your message to.
When you try to force a message, you might as well be pushing a log against the current of a raging river.
It can feel like you're making progress because you're moving through the water, but the water will carry the log away as soon as you let go of it.
3. We're All the Same, But We're All Different
Humans are weird creatures.
We have a lot of similarities, but we have our own eccentricities, too.
Copywriting works on the principle that humans all respond to similar motivations.
Copywriters can make a lot of money by writing words that get people to take action and buy whatever is being sold to them.
Humans are also alike in the sense that they don't like being forced to do something.
Copywriters know this well.
How many times have you purchased something because someone pressured you until you did it?
I bet you're more likely to spend money with a salesperson who makes you feel good about yourself than someone who is only interested in making the most money they can from you.
That's why, when communicating with someone, you need to treat them as the human that they are while also finding the things that make them unique.
Sure, we have all similar emotions.
But do we all have spiky blue mohawks on our heads?
If you're communicating with someone like that, there must be a reason why they choose to style their hair that way.
Understand what motivates them, and you'll do much better in persuading them to do what you want them to do.
4. Would You Have a Conversation With You?
I want you to consider how you talk to most people.
Are you talking at them and filling up the space, or are you giving them ample opportunities to respond and ask you questions?
You know a bad conversation when you see it, but it can be hard to identify if you're being the bad-conversation culprit.
When you see a bad conversation, you usually see and feel:
- One person droning on and on
- The other person looking uncomfortable, bored, or like they're trying to escape
- Your own energy draining because you know that the conversation is not productive (This is especially the case for highly sensitive people, of which I am one)
If you haven't spent much time watching people and how they communicate, I want you to try it.
Observing others is one of the best ways to get communication strategies for your own conversations.
5. Forceful Behavior is One of the Hallmark Signs of Toxic Relationships
Not all one-sided relationships are toxic, but all toxic relationships are one-sided.
People who are unable to give others space and autonomy are not people you want to hang around.
This is especially true in a romantic relationship.
If someone is using force to control your life, you need to consider escaping that relationship.
I know this is not always easy.
But force should be a last resort in a relationship. If a relationship is strong, it shouldn't need force in the first place.
Force is about control. It's connected to negative emotions like fear, anxiety, and shame.
Often, people resort to using forceful behavior and words because they aren't willing to deal with the negative emotions that are hiding underneath.
If you frequently find yourself in negative social situations, I want you to consider how often force is one of the reasons the situation is negative.
It doesn't have to be overt force like physical violence--it could be passive-aggressive comments or someone repeatedly talking over you.
Just because something isn't as aggressive doesn't mean it's any less damaging.
When I was working as a social worker with people in both inpatient and outpatient settings, many people would tell me that emotional abuse was much more hurtful to them than physical abuse.
How to Communicate Effectively (It's All About the Other Person)
This is another tip from the world of sales and copywriting.
If you're trying to get someone to buy something, you don't hit them over the head with all the reasons your product or service is so awesome.
You figure out what problems the potential customer has--and you do everything you can to show how your product or service solves them.
Because communication is a two-way street.
Maybe you walk with someone a mile or two to get to know them and to learn about what makes them tick.
Then, after hearing what they have to say for a while, maybe you convince them to hear your side of things.
If you talk 20% of the time and listen 80% of the time, it's only a matter of time until the other person gets bored with their own life story and listens to how you can help them.
Plus, after having proven that you're a good listener, the other person will be much more likely to trust and like you.
It's human nature.
The great secret of good friends is that they both feel like they get more out of the relationship than the other.
Feelings are Just As Important As Words, If Not More So
Not to get all political, but let's get political for a second.
The most effective politicians (Note, I'm not saying likable or helpful) are the ones who play on people's emotions.
They use simple messages that stoke primal feelings.
They know that emotions like anxiety, fear, and anger motivate people much more than contentment or intellectual satisfaction.
The next time you're trying to get someone to do something, consider what kind of mood they are in before you make your request.
Is there a way you could meet them where they are in that mood?
Could you somehow let them know that you understand what they are going through?
If so, you'll have much better odds of getting them to accept your offer or idea, whatever it might be.
Healthy communication is based on matching the tone and body language of the other person, something that is known as building rapport.
Studies show that people who are communicating well often sync up the way they are moving and speaking.
This is as true for body language as it is for volume of speech and intonation of words.
When to Be Forceful
Now, I know I just spent this entire article telling you not to be forceful, but there's an exception.
Again, it has to do with knowing the person you're dealing with.
Here's the thing: forceful, assertive communication can work with the right kind of person.
If you are dealing with a Type A person, it can often be helpful to speak the way they speak.
If they are joking and waving their arms as they talk, maybe you should too.
Every situation is different, and you have to look for clues that it's not a bad situation that you're in.
Abusive behavior is where you should draw the line, of course.
But if the person just has a loud personality, you may have to get loud as well.
Your current situation is always where you should draw your clues.
In Conclusion: A Healthy Relationship is One of the Best Tools You Have
There's almost no better form of leverage in life than a healthy relationship.
You can get more done in less time when you have people by your side.
For that, you need communication--and communication is built from a solid foundation of social skills.
The less you rely on force, the less likely it is you'll produce negative feelings in others.
You can be forceful on rare occasions, but now you should know why you should never force anyone to talk to you.
Doing that will put you at a disadvantage before you even have a chance to communicate.
Because force is not communication. It's destruction.
Of all the conversational skills at your disposal, removing the use of force may be one of the most constructive skills of all.