Ever caught yourself in the company of someone who is talking to you and suddenly realised you haven’t heard, much less understood anything they have said to you?
I developed this unwanted art as a teenager in the company of my grandparents who I visited regularly. All I can say now is I did only 5% of the job I could, I tuned out to 90% of the conversation.
When you have a communication disconnect you are either wasting their time or they are wasting yours. You have two basic choices:
- Wake up and engage with sincerity or
In both cases you should also apologise for your disinterest.
I can hear squeals of horror (from those of you still listening) at the last suggestion – apologising, eek.! As a more constructive and more easily applied solution let’s look at some of the things you can do to avoid getting in this situation in the first place:
Keep good company. Avoid people or situations that bore you, people who just say the same thing over and over, negative people, and people guilty of too many “I” statements.
Give them time. Ensure you have time for the conversations you have. If someone wants to talk to you about something ‘important’ make the time you spend important as well – even if it means setting a later date or time to hold the discussion.
Don’t anticipate a reply. We all know this trap – your mind whirrs with the answer when you haven’t even heard out the problem or the proposal. Well stop it now. No now. Stop it!! This is so unproductive, unless the conversation really is going over old ground. Are you in this conversation or not?
Create empty space. Strong conversation actually has gaps – spaces where each party is considering what has just been delivered. If the dialogue sounds more like a machine gun then someone ain’t listening properly, it’s an argument not a discussion.
As a final word for those delivering a message – always make sure you have the other person’s attention:
- Is this a good time to talk?
- Can you spare me 5 minutes of your time for me to outline my proposal?
- Can we make a time to discuss this new project?
Would be typical entree’s for focussed and constructive discussion.
Thanks for listening.