We all do it, and we all get in trouble for it, and we all try to “fix” it, but … casual conversation can kill ya’!
Conversation is the window to someone’s personality, or personalities as it were. When we hear someone talk, we make judgements on their intelligence, moral views, education, regionality, and whether we want to “friend” them on Facebook.
And so do they!
There are those out there…and I’m not accusing anyone…who suffer from Bad Conversation Behavior, or BCB as I like to call it.
BCB can instantly de-rail a potential friendship, relationship, job interview, or business deal. If you suffer from BCB, you need to know.
Here are some tips.
1. Don’t be a ‘hijacker’. This is bad not only at the airport, but in every social venue as well.
Hijackers don’t let a breath pass between your final thought and their first. You come to the thrilling climax of your story about Great Aunt Betty’s memory loss and BOOM! They jump right in with a “one-UPper” about their Great Aunt Alice’s bank heist.
You know the type. They weren’t listening to you, but they are quite sure you’ll listen to them. They usually try to top your story, and may on occasion make little of it.
It’s offensive. And makes you feel like a victim.
2. Eye contact, there is a happy medium.
In one on one conversation, eye contact is important. It should be direct, but not too intense. You want to look at the person, not through the person you’re talking with. And not too much straying, they want to feel as though your concentrating on this conversation with them, and not other things in the room. However, don’t stare them down, they just might peg you for a serial killer.
3. Don’t be the Horse Whisperer. If I have to ask you more than twice what you said, the conversation is usually over. Speak UP, speak out. If it’s not important enough to project then it’s not important enough.
I’m a ‘low-talker’ and often catch myself drifting off at the end of a sentence. And people tell me all the time that I have a soothing voice. I’m not so sure this is good. Granted, I could get the kids to sleep, and can still calm a fussy child, but I have to work on projection and enunciation all the time.
4. Inappropriate Humor. There’s a time and a place. Know your audience, and know the time and place. And there are somethings that are never appropriate. Yes, I know this is a stunner coming from me!
5. Me, Me, Me…no it’s not all about you. Don’t be a walking Tweet! Let the other person talk. And after you’re done bloviating about the insignificancies of your life, listen to the insignificancies of theirs.
6. Debby Downer – don’t be one! When a conversation starts with “this sucks” or “my world is falling apart” there is a tendency to RUN, RUN, RUN. Don’t be the person causing the audience to flee! You don’t have to fake happiness, when you’re not, but life is not all glum all the time.
7. Don’t be a Dead End Boy. ‘Yes’ and ‘no’ all the time are answers that reek of disinterest and disengagement. Granted it is a great way to get rid of someone, but your best friend might just take offense!
8. Don’t be a Word Processor. Again, there is a happy medium. Yesses and noes may say you’re not interested, but too much is still too much. It can also say, “I’d much rather hear myself talk than hear you!” If you talk too much, there’s a possibility that most of it will be forgotten. The ‘take away’ will be that you talk too much. I’m a talker, SURPRISE! And often I find myself “fighting for mic time” in a conversation. One of the hardest lessons to learn was “less is more”. I still don’t get it sometimes! Nevertheless, it’s a conversation, not a monologue, diatribe, or Phillipic!
9. The Mr. I’m Smarter Than You. You may be, but it’s never nice to point it out. No one really cares if you read a chapter of War and Peace in Russian everynight. There should be a balance in the conversation. If American Idol is the topic and you don’t watch it, oh well. But don’t expect your conversation partner to get anything from your report on the latest from NPR! And don’t deride someone for watching what they watch. I may not approve either, but others aren’t miscreants for not liking what you like! And really, be nice, don’t obfuscate.
10. The Shameless Self Promotor. I’ll just leave that one alone, I really don’t know anything about that topic!