A Conversation Killer

Better You Blog, A Conversation Killer

Recently, I had a session with a client who described a phone conversation she had with a relative. It sounded like she took control of the conversation rather quickly when the relative described a life-altering event so I asked for clarification. My client quickly admitted she had commandeered the conversation toward the topic she saw me about. Those two topics had nothing in common.

It’s a familiar frustration I hear from people. They begin talking and the listener quickly makes the conversation about them. The speaker soon regrets beginning the conversation in the first place and imagines more value if they were talking to a brick wall.

This is a bad habit that may be keeping you from having better relationships. It’s an unhealthy practice that makes conversation one-sided. When someone sees you as a conversation hijacker, they may not reach out as often or they may project that annoyance toward you in other ways. You may soon discover they’re less available when you reach out.

Most people aren’t aware that they do this. In fact, my client wasn’t. Because of what was happening within the family, the two had to speak again a few days later. My client put the new revelation into practice. She was tempted to interject more than a few times but didn’t. Instead, she listened and validated her family member on the other end of the line. Afterward, she felt better about supporting her family member who is going through a difficult time and will be for some time.

Consider if you might be a conversation hijacker. Change can only happen through awareness. The next time you talk to someone, be aware of your tendencies. Notice when someone needs to talk. Refrain from taking their topic and making it about something you’ve experienced. Give them their time and be empathetic. From my experience, people are pretty good at explaining their stuff, snapping out of it eventually, and then saying, “How about you? What’s going on in your life?”.

If you have someone in mind that you call when you need an ear, what makes that person your go-to person? They are probably great listeners and provide a safe space for you to talk without making it about them.

When interacting with others, be humble. Socrates once said, “Pride divides the man; humility joins them.” Think more about the speaker than yourself. If you want to deepen your relationships, listen more and talk less.