Have you ever been in a conversation with someone, where you are talking, but before you can finish your sentence, they finish it for you? The whole time you are talking they are inserting words, kinda rushing you along. They’re just waiting for the brief pause to take over the conversation. It’s as if they are more preoccupied with what they want to say than listening to what you are saying.
Well, I use to be one of those people. I still catch myself doing it some times. This mantra is a constant reminder for me. Typically, when people are talking, I am catching a little bit of what they are throwing down. But some times, I am more obsessed with what I have to say and the witty response I have to what they are saying.
So What’s The Problem?
This type of approach to conversation is plagued with the following problems:
- not really understanding what the other person is saying;
- being off-putting and disrespectful;
- putting out the “I am a controller” vibe;
- making people feel like you don’t really care what they are saying.
Now, I don’t know about you, but creating these kind of problems in conversations, wherever you are, is not going to make you a crowd favorite. Not to mention, you probably won’t learn anything if you are the one who is constantly talking. Interrupting others and not listening to them is kinda like saying, “I know more than you and I want you to know it.” Or you are saying, “What I have to say is more important than what you have to say.” If the person or people you are speaking with get this vibe, you will find yourself alone at parties. You will be playing the five minute dating game. You will be going from person to person, trying to find someone who is either not confident enough to break the conversation or too drunk to care.
Listen To Learn Not Respond
Like I said earlier, I use to be really bad at this, and I still find myself doing this at times. This is a tough habit to break, but it can be done. Reminding myself of this mantra helps me to re-focus my brain when someone is talking. As soon as I feel myself ready to hop in and take over, I remember this mantra. It helps to focus my attention back on what they are saying. I try to really understand what they are saying, rather than anxiously awaiting for my turn to talk. Now I try to listen to learn, not to respond. This helped me to establish one of my life principles:
“Listen to learn, not respond. Be the last to speak.“
When they finish speaking, now is my turn, but I don’t start talking as soon as the last word falls from their lips. Instead, I pause for three to five seconds, to ensure they have finished what they wanted to say. Then I respond with what I think about the topic. This approach helps me:
- be patient and not feel rushed in the conversation;
- truly listen and understand what the other person is saying so I can better respond;
- be the kind of person who people want to talk to.
The most important person to anyone in the room is themselves. People want to be heard, respected, and made to feel like they are important. Remembering not to interrupt them or finish their sentences tells them that you care about what they are saying. It tells them you really want to understand them. By being patient and controlled in conversations, you become someone people want and look forward to talking to. People remember this from one social event to the next.
Make it a point to be mindful of this mantra. Enter an event or party, eager to learn what others have to say and being the guy/gal who is easy to talk to.