“What time is it?” Some would say there are two types of people in this world (we will call then Type A and Type B). Type A’s are those who would respond to this question by simply saying, “2:30”, for example, while Type B’s would respond by telling you how to build a watch before they ever actually tell you the time. Types A’s may be silently screaming “Can you please just get to the point!” Thus losing any level of concentration or listening effectiveness – They checked out 10 minutes ago.
Why does this happen and what can we do about it?
Research has shown that the average person speaks approximately 150-250 Words Per Minute (WPM), depending on which part of the world or region they come from. What is also known is the average brain can process 600-900 Words Per Minute. Ah, now you see part of the problem. There is a huge GAP between Cognitive Processing and Verbal Expression when we communicate with someone. It is virtually impossible to even try to compete with the speed of the mind. Even the Sham Wow! TV sales person from years ago couldn’t keep up. So what can we do about it?
#1. “To Be Interesting You Need to Be Interested” – This means that we typically will find certain people quite interesting primarily on the premise that they were more interested in us. It is not because they talked your ear off about themselves. In order to hold someone’s attention try talking less about yourself and ask more questions about the other person. An easy way to detect if you are a victim of too much self chatter is when you find yourself using words like, “I”, “Me”, “My” way too much.
#2 “The Eyes Don’t Lie” – As easy as it sounds, holding eye contact is one of the weakest skills the average person has. I’m not recommending a staring contest. I refer to sustained levels of focused eye contact during direct communication. While the other person may check out, you should check in…with them by simply holding eye contact while asking them an engaging question. This wins ever time!
#3 Read the Signs – Be aware of Non-Verbal Communication of the other person (We will discuss awareness of your own body language in another post). Are you losing them? Are they mentally and physically checking out? The ultimate signs of engaged, focused, and meaning communication is when two people are in direct alignment with their body language and eye contact is in sync, i.e., arms open, shoulders facing each other, facial expressions and tone of voice are all congruent with what is being said or received.
#4 Watch the Feet – If you want to know where someone’s mind is during a conversation take a look at the direction of their feet (when standing). Many times the feet will point in the direction to where their mind wants to go! Outward towards the door? Or straight on front and center with you?
#5 Stop Talking and Use “Golden Silence” – It is amazing to me when I am talking with my teenage daughter and she chooses to “Check out” right in the middle of our conversation to check a text or an Instagram, but insists that she is “Listening” to me. I just stop talking and the silence is amazingly powerful to draw her back in. I know many of you can relate to this.
So whichever Type you are, A or B, don’t get frustrated just be the better person by being “aware” that people Take In, Process, and Send information differently.
“Excuse me…Can you tell me what time it is?”
Giordano Corporate Training