Some cultural observers have posited that we’re moving from an information economy to a reputation economy. There’s so much information to sort through, that figuring out which bits to pay attention to has come to increasingly rely on what we think of the person delivering them. We privilege the messenger over the message.

But how exactly do we decide which messengers to listen to or not? What draws us to particular messengers and causes us to tune out others?

My guest has spent his career researching, lecturing, and writing about the answers to these questions and he shares his insights in a new book. His name is Steve Martin and he’s the author of Messengers: Who We Listen To, Who We Don’t, and Why. In the first half of our conversation, we unpack why it is that the messenger matters so much, and how people can manipulate these factors in unethical ways to peddle messages and influence that may not be credible. We then shift into how you can also leverage these neutral tools in ethical ways to make yourself more persuasive and ensure your ideas get heard. Steve explains that there are two types of persuasive messengers — hard and soft — and walks us through the qualities embodied by each. We discuss the different ways a person can become an effective hard messenger, including competence, dominance, and attractiveness, and what makes a soft messenger persuasive, including warmth, vulnerability, and charisma — the latter of which incorporates a trait you may not have previously associated with being charismatic. We end our conversation discussing when you should use a hard vs. soft approach as you seek to lead and share your message.

Show Highlights

  • Examples of true messengers who were ignored, despite the veracity of their message 
  • Why does our brain link the message to the messenger? 
  • The two broad categories of messengers 
  • Why status matters so much when it comes to trust 
  • How much does appearance matter when it comes to status and trust?
  • What does competence physically look like? 
  • The relationship between confidence and competence 
  • How do you promote yourself without turning people off?
  • The role of dominance in giving and receiving messages 
  • Does attractiveness matter in whether our messages are trusted?
  • Why it’s important to be a “warm” messenger
  • How politicians try to convey warmth and connection  
  • When does vulnerability work? When does it not work?
  • The incredible power of metaphor 
  • How do you know whether to use hard or soft messenger skills?

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

Connect With Steve (And Take the Assessment) 

Take the assessment here

Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)




Listen to the episode on a separate page.

Download this episode.

Subscribe to the podcast in the media player of your choice.

Listen ad-free on Stitcher Premium; get a free month when you use code “manliness” at checkout.

Podcast Sponsors

Saxx Underwear. Game changing underwear, with men’s anatomy in mind. Visit and get 10% off plus FREE shipping.

Capterra. The leading free online resource for finding small business software. With over 700 specific categories of software, you’re guaranteed to find what’s right for your business. Go to to try it out for free.

Click here to see a full list of our podcast sponsors.

Read the Transcript

Coming soon!

The post Podcast #580: Why People Do (Or Don’t) Listen to You appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *