I learned something about myself a couple months ago – something I really didn’t like. Through a series of events, I learned that I like to hijack conversations. What does this mean? Finishing people’s sentences, thinking of my answer before the person is done talking, taking what the person is saying and trying to figure out how to get it onto a topic that I’m more expert in, etc. A friend (as a joke, I hope) has even offered to make me a T-shirt that says “reformed conversation hijacker.”
“Hijacking conversations” is a skill I’ve learned in business where things move at lightning speed – and finishing each other’s conversations is actually a skill. When I have been working with team leaders and we can finish each other’s sentences, this means that we’re on the same page, that we know where the other person is going, etc. It’s a great skill.
Also, time is money – right? So let’s move things along, people. If I know where the conversation is going and the person is taking FOR-E-VER getting to the point, I like to cut in (hopefully at a tactful place) and cut to the chase.
And sure, I am not trying to undermine “hijacking” as a skill. It is a skill. And completely necessary to busy managers or bosses who are trying to get things done but have dozens of people clamoring for their attention.
However, I’ve found that – especially in the relational part of business (and let’s face it: you have relationships with your staff, boss, customers, etc, whether you like it or not) – this is a detriment rather than a skill.
If you don’t believe me, go home tonight and finish your spouse’s conversation all throughout dinner and see how he/she reacts.
Probably not very positively, eh?
The people you work with – or have working under you – need for you to listen. They also need to know that you can give them space to listen. If they see you as distant and unapproachable – sure, they won’t bother you with some of their nonsense…but they probably also won’t come to you with the good ideas that are churning around in their heads.
Things you can do:
- Don’t squash people’s ideas.
- Have more patience.
- Listen just a bit longer – there might be a diamond in the rough.
So there is a time and a place for “hijacking” – but I’m convinced we’re all pretty good at this. I think many of us need to focus more on LISTENING.
In Part II, we’ll talk about a couple tips to being a Better Listener.
What about you? Do you feel like your boss listens to you? Do you think listening is a problem at your work place? Any tips on being a good listener?