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03/07/2014

Boom! How to Stop Conversation Bombing

IStock_000004563504X_webLast night I was at friend’s house telling someone a story about something I had heard on the radio.  During a pause between two sentences, a third person started peppering me with questions.  He obviously had not heard the beginning of the conversation.  By the time I was done answering his questions, the person to whom I was originally telling the story had been grabbed by someone else.  The story was never told.  It was like a grenade went off in the middle of the dialogue.

Have you ever felt that way?  It resembles a carefully scripted, dramatic scene in a play whose momentum screeches to a halt because one of the actors jumps their line.

My conversation-bombing friend was well intentioned and I enjoy dialoguing with him.  He didn’t intend to conversation-bomb and acknowledged his error after the fact.  I can’t cast much blame because I know that I have been a conversation-bomber myself.  More than anything, it reminded me to be ever vigilant to how I am in my own communication skills to enter conversations without conversation-bombing others.

How do we stop?

1)      Change our attitude

Before you conversation-bomb, think about which of these attitudes is driving you:

  • I have to know everything.
  • I have to know what is going on…now.
  • I don’t want to miss anything.

Guess what?  It’s not all about you.  You don’t have to know everything, and you don’t need to know now.  Instead change your attitude to focus on the story-teller.  It’s ok to enter the conversation, but how can you do it in a way that makes them look good?  The best communicators make others feel important.

Use “WIIFT”!  “What’s in it for them” – the same thing a good presenter will use when delivering a message to their audience.

2)      Ease into the conversation

As you enter the conversation, do so my listening instead of talking.  In fact, don’t say anything for at least 60 seconds (for some of us that is a long time not to say anything).  Make it a challenge.  What can you learn just by listening?  Can you answer your questions?  Consider yourself exercising your communication “muscles” by focusing on listening.

If after 60 seconds, you still have a question, wait for the person to finish their story, and politely ask, “I apologize, I missed the beginning of the story, what happened to put the team in this position [or whatever your question is]?”  Or you could even wait until a little later.  The person may be flattered that you showed an interest in their story, while not being so focused on yourself.

Becoming a great communicator means doing little things.  When you are in a social setting, pay attention to how often you may be conversation-bombing.  It’s a great place to practice those ever important listening skills.

Perhaps next time instead of conversation-bombing, we can do some conversation-cultivating.

 


 
 


 

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