can help . . .
We are by nature helpful, so we think we’re helping our co-worker, our friend, or our family member when we start completing their sentences, or talking over them as they are finishing a sentence. Many times we’ve developed the habit without even realizing it, and in some cases it doesn’t create a problem. But in many cases it will.
Sometimes we’re enthusiastic about what the other person is saying and without realizing it, we jump right in, in a sense ‘kidnapping’ their thought, idea, or comment. This will happen to the best of us because of the enthusiasm, and it will show in our tone of voice. This usually isn’t offensive, unless it happens every time the other person speaks.
We may think we have the solution or a better way, so like steering a car, we jump into the sentence to help steer it to the right conclusion. Or we want to get our point across while we have the opportunity. This can happen especially when the topic is emotional, such as politics or religion (which is one reason these topics usually are not good for the majority of social or business functions). We want to ‘help’ the other person understand a different point of view, or provide new and helpful information. And jumping in is usually too aggressive.
Then there’s the situation when the other person talks more slowly than we do, and we become impatient, cutting in when they aren’t completing a sentence fast enough. This will more frequently happen when we’re under stress or distracted. We’re not able to relax and enjoy the conversation at a pace that’s comfortable for the other person.
In each of these cases, we talk with, or talk over another person who is already talking. If we practice paying attention to others who are talking by allowing them to complete their thoughts and sentences, we can create a more positive conversational environment.
There’s a fine line between allowing the other person to finish his/her thoughts and sentences, and the dead silent pause that becomes uncomfortable. That’s the situation when we are quietly listening, and the other person finishes a sentence, and not knowing if there will be a sentence to follow, we quietly wait, and wait, and wait. Suddenly we realize, the other person isn’t going to follow-up with another one.
I’ve been in situations when I’ve tried to allow another person to finish a few thoughts before I speak, only to find an extended silence is occurring that becomes awkward. This will sometimes happen when people meet for the first time and haven’t discovered common interests that will naturally carry a conversation along.
In order to be prepared for these awkward situations, I’ve developed the following technique.
- Talking to the wall
Believe it or not, a wonderful technique I’ve used is to practice talking to the wall. I’ll write out several questions and rehearse them until they smoothly roll off my tongue. And rather than just having all one-line questions, I’ll preface the question with a statement about the topic, which will alert the other person to the category I’ll be talking about to help break the ice. I have my ‘standards’, for instance:
Then I’ll rehearse one or two more that are specific to the occasion I’m attending, or the person being honored, for instance:
By being comfortable and having several questions available, should they be needed, we can now relax and listen to the others without verbally jumping into their sentences.
When we are actively listening to someone else, we are truly interested in what they are saying – all of it. And with this interest, we won’t over-talk their words because we are listening.
The classy person listens when someone else talks, and pays close attention to their cadence. By doing this, the potential to ‘over-talk’ someone else becomes minimized, and the enthusiasm for the conversation will continue without interrupting the other person.
I'm Looking forward to sending you another of my ClassyTips next week. Until then, have a great week, and don't forget to visit my Forum where you can ask your questions on 'Becoming the Best You Can Be'.
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