The following are the 15 points I picked out after spending a lot of my positive energy engaged with a person who was scoring high on numbing my brain, killing my happiness and my belief in the success of all of mankind.
“Why is it that the person who is speaking to me right at this moment is boring me to tears with the conversation?”
I typed this sentence into my phone as it happened. I recorded it so I could capture that feeling there and then and go on to explore at a later time why it was so? Why was this person so fecking dull? Why did I have flashes of the groundhog day punching scene racing through my head? Why did I hang in there when I was so obviously tanking on my engagement with the subject matter?
When I took the time to reflect on the conversation, I listed out what I could identify as the reasons I was not enjoying our conversation. Before I dig into the detail, I do take part-ownership of the conversation. I accept my part and that I may not have been a good receiver of information. I know I am standoffish when it comes to pointless small talk. The point of this exercise is to explore my skill or lack of it when it comes to connecting with others and work out why I struggle with some people more than others.
- First up, the person I spoke with had an evident lack of animation and was not engaging with his body language. Their hands did not move from their side. I could not get comfortable in their presence because it left nothing else but the eyes to connect with and too much of that is just damn creepy.
- Next, the topic that the person chose to bring up was not particularly interesting. They were clearly more informed than me and decided to press that point. Being the smartest during the conversation about a boring topic makes you nothing more than the smartest bore.
- If you are so much into the topic that you love and brought up, then show some passion for the subject. Presenting your conversation with all the energy of an automated checkout cashier is not going to engage me. It might help me rescan my grocery item and irritate me in the process, but it will not get me to buy into your opinion.
- You can build trust quickly with people, even strangers. But you can also destroy trust in many ways. Behind this conversation was a lack of trust. It was something unsaid. Difficult to put your finger on precisely what. But it was there, stinky in the air.
- Believe in what you are saying because if you don’t, it comes across as you shovelling shit. This person was shovelling shit by the spadeful. They were piling it into a hand bucket and asking me to hold it for them. Nope, I was not reaching for that bucket of plop he was calling indisputable fact.
- Speak with a structure in mind because I could not follow what you were trying to tell me. Maybe it is my attention span. Perhaps my energy was dwindling, but it was not easy to track who said what to whom, especially when I don’t know half of your cast of characters.
- If you are getting off the structure, get back on track by telling me what you are doing. Give me an indicator that you are pulling back one train of thought and embarking on another outbound journey. Don’t let me try and grasp what train I am on. Tell me.
- Have a point to what you are saying. Otherwise, I am left hanging at the end of that awkward sentence, and we are staring at each other like one of us just passed wind.
- When you are off and running with your fevered conversation, slow down at times. Your mundane voice is bad enough but to have no punctuation is also drastically not good. Pause and check in with me, even nudge me as I may have fallen asleep with my eyes open.
- If you ask me something and I cotton on that, you have actually asked me something. Then listen.
- It would not hurt you to smile. It might have indicated to me that you are not a robot. I am still not sure even now when I think back.
- Come to think about it. Did you crack a joke in that monologue? Maybe next time you could use some humour. It might help me get past the belief that you are the best robot on the market.
- Oh, any chance of being a little humble. You know, like, acknowledging the fact that the world would still turn with you not being on it. Humble is good. It comes from sharing some authenticity and failure. Come on, we all do it at some point – we all fail.
- Stop using the word ‘right!’ at the end of your sentence. Just because you tack it on there does not mean I agree with you. If you want me to agree, then ask me if I agree. Do not presume I am with you by blindly adding that word as a conjecture to my affirmation of your outlandish claims. I disagree that America is the worlds saviour. Right!!
- Finally, wrapping it all up before I get too vindictive. Read the signs. React to me and interpret what my blank stare is telling you. It means you have lost your audience, and you should jog on.
The conversation was waning, and being too polite, I nodded along and shifted my gaze to their forehead. I am told that makes people conscious that you are not listening and that they should move on.
The conversation moved on once I connect with the forehead. (no, not in that Glasgow kiss kind-a-way) I was glad to see the back of that person. The clown moved on, and I watched as his pointy hat, size fifteen clown shoes, and red honky nose disappeared from my gaze.
I apologise for my cruelty of thought here. I am sorry. But how you feel is how you feel.
The conversation that captivates and inspires me.
The person that captivates is the opposite of all of this and more. The person who captivates and inspires me always has that vision and can build a beautiful picture of the why. They explain using all their senses why what they are telling me matters so much to us both.
That person connects emotionally and intellectually. They connect socially and physically, and they are a joy to be around.
I am sure that I can inspire someone and turn off many others. The opportunity is in identifying who, what, where and when. The skill is in dealing with the situation so that you can adapt to your audience to make the desired impact.
The actual skill is not giving a toss what they think but believing in what you are delivering and land it with all of your might.
Even if it is narrated for an uninspired audience.