The Familiarity Trap: Why Your Words Fall on Deaf Ears and How to Fix It

Jul 02, 2024

Do you ever feel like your words fall on deaf ears with those you try to help, influence or lead? It could be the law of familiarity.

What is the “law of familiarity?”

It’s a concept that every one of us should understand and learn to deal with effectively, because it applies to each of us in some way. The law of familiarity is the phenomenon that occurs if you’re around something long enough, you tend to take it for granted and pay less attention to it.

When this law is applied to people, it means we often give less attention and value to those who are familiar to us. This can involve anyone we hear from frequently, such as family members, colleagues, or leaders, and sometimes it applies to us as well.

So what do we do if our message is falling on deaf ears for those we lead?   

First, don’t take it personally if you feel you’re not resonating with someone who hears from you often. It’s very likely just the law of familiarity at work.

Even the best leaders, including Jesus over 2,000 years ago, faced this challenge. In Nazareth, his hometown, people dismissed his teachings because they knew him as Joseph and Mary’s son. However, in Capernaum, just 14 miles away where he was less familiar, people listened and believed he was the son of God.

I’ve seen this law in action myself. Strangers have paid me significant sums of money for my coaching, valuing my advice, yet sometimes my own children or team members don’t listen to what I have to say because I’m too familiar. It’s not entirely their fault. When people hear the same voice too often, the law of familiarity can cause them to tune it out.

So, how can we counteract this? In addition to sharing our own insights, we must learn to incorporate others’ teachings to reach our audience. Utilize books, speakers, podcasts, and messages that convey what you desire they learn and allow them the opportunity to listen and learn from a fresh, new voice.

By letting someone else deliver the message, you create an environment where your audience is more receptive. We must set our feelings aside and allow others to be the “expert” at times. They may deliver the message differently, but a fresh voice can be more effective than simply hearing ours all the time.

Think about how you can apply this strategy in your life to combat the law of familiarity and benefit those you care about and lead, then execute one or more of these suggestions. I am sure it will be helpful.

Until next time, make it a great one! - Allan

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Was this helpful? Have a suggestion for future content? I’d love to hear from you. Will you please consider reaching out by way of email, or even better, one of my favorite messaging platforms… Facebook Messenger or Instagram Messenger, letting me know how this may have impacted you and sharing any suggestions you may have for future topics that you’d like me to share on?
With Much Appreciation, Allan