How much of the conversation are you missing because you’re doing all of the talking?
Posted by Molly Wendell // in Networking
My dad was in the hospital recently. He was having chest pains, so my mom called 911. When the paramedics arrived, they started to ask him some questions. But oh so quickly, Dad interrupted. “Hey, do you know Willie?” Willie is the Fire Chief. Turns out they work for him. “What about Mark?” Mark is their immediate boss. Look at that, in the midst of crisis, Dad was making conversation – finding common bonds. Doing some networking. I think Dad got a little extra attention that day.
Fast forward to the hospital. We’re in with my dad waiting to hear from the doctor. As a general rule, my dad never seems to know what’s wrong with him or what they’re going to do. And now I know why. Right when the doctor is about to share some very important information, Dad interrupts with some very important questions. “Did you get a chance to see the game last night? Are you a golfer? Darly sure is a great nurse, isn’t she? Do you know Vanessa – over in Telemetry? She’s really something!” And that’s when it occurred to me. How much is Dad missing because he is too busy talking and not busy listening?
This got me thinking about people who are out there networking. You might be having a conversation with somebody, and just when they’re about to share some really important information, you interrupt with something you’re just dying to say. By saying it, you take the conversation to another direction and now you’ll never know what it was they were going to tell you. It could have been a possible connection. It could have been a lead. It could have resulted in some real revenue. But instead, you just had to talk.
I was meeting with someone recently about some technology I’m trying to build. As he was talking, I found myself about to interrupt him – multiple times. It was that start/stop feeling of waiting for an opening so I could say something. Kind of like when you were little, playing jump rope. You keep waiting your turn, and if you’re not perfectly timed, you’ll end up getting tangled in the rope. The anticipation of getting your timing just right forces you to think more about you and what you need to say, than listening to them and finding out what you need to hear.
In hindsight, what I should have done was jotted something down to remember the question or statement, and then continued listening. But instead, I probably got tangled in the rope a few times.
People do this all of the time. They talk and talk and then talk some more. But to be a good conversationalist (and therefore, a good networker) you need to listen, listen and then listen some more. And just because you’re not talking doesn’t mean you’re actually listening.
Try practicing this next time you’re in a conversation. Let the other person talk. And then let them talk some more. And then, let them talk even more. You’ll be amazed how much information you walk away with. And don’t worry that you didn’t get to say everything you felt you needed to at the time. You can schedule a networking meeting with yourself…and do all of the talking!
And what am I going to do with my dad? I tell you what I’m going to do. From now on, I’m going with him to every doctor’s appointment he has…so we can find out more than just his doctor’s golf handicap.