8 ways to get your team to listen (when you don’t have a whistle)

metal WhistleThe truth is that whistles aren’t necessary.

As a young coach, I thought I needed a whistle to get my players’ attention and ensure they were listening to me.

Turns out, a few years into my coaching career I learned that it wasn’t the whistle that truly earned their attention.  Sure, it was disruptive and caused them to stop and look at me for a moment – but it wasn’t the reason they listened to me. 

I eventually began to coach without a whistle – and my teams responded to my voice… but not just because I was their coach. 

They listened because I built trust and was concerned with helping them succeed.

Your people won’t REALLY be invested in listening to you because of your whistle or your title.

Whistles and titles are only a crutch for inexperienced leaders, and they don’t inspire lasting attention or loyalty.

If you want to earn their ears and ensure that what you have to say is really being heard and valued, there are 8 ways you can get your team to listen:


1 Stop dancing around the issue –

be clear and get right to your point.  People appreciate directness.


2 Talk with them, not at them

don’t turn them away by being an angry preacher who just yells


3 Deliver it in a relevant way

say it so they know how it affects them and their values


4 Know what you are talking about

be informed and experienced enough to gain their confidence


5 Demonstrate your resolve

let your actions prove that you will follow through with your words


6 Cut out the complaints

don’t waste their time with whining if you aren’t going to take action


7 Connect with your people

get out of your office and interact enough to build relationships


8 Be committed to your common cause

if you aren’t energized and passionate they won’t be either


All of these ways to get your team to listen can be summarized in two words – build trust.

Trust is a three legged stool, and Like Rapid Teamwork, it is something you can establish in minutes instead of years if you understand how it is created and maintained.

If you and your teammates are struggling to listen to or interact effectively with one another, you may need to step back and address those communication issues by scheduling a custom team workshop or fun team building event that will energize and equip your people with useful tools and ideas.

Don’t depend on your title (or your whistle) to inspire hungry eyes and ears.  As a team leader or teammate, with a title or without, focus on implementing all of the above 8 ideas to ensure your people are truly listening to and valuing your words.





4 thoughts on “8 ways to get your team to listen (when you don’t have a whistle)

  1. Dr Madan says:

    The content has been a great help in planning my Team building session which was well apprecated.

    Thank you Sean

  2. Steven Stasczak says:

    #5 is so important. If you’re not going to show people you care and how to do things properly why should they? So true. Great post, thanks for the tips

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