Sunday, February 12, 2017

How About You?

The great struggle in conversation is that people talk but don't listen. I used to laugh at that comment when I heard it, until I realized I kind of suffer from that problem. For example, if someone asks me how I am, I respond, but then forget one very important detail:

"How about you?"

It's my selfish, introverted personality that causes me in conversation to pretty much answer the question and not turn it back on the person that talked to me. Many, many times I talk to someone and realize later that I never asked them how they were!

I have made a valiant effort, especially in my professional career, to work on turning the conversation around. They ask me a question, I answer simply, and then turn it towards them.

"How about you?"

Usually their answer is longer and more detailed because they were the ones that brought up the subject in the first place. It does really help because I learn more about them than I knew before. They're trying to find out more about me, but I actually find out more about them.

While gleaning this information may be simple for some, it's quite hard for me. I really need to make the effort to not only remember to turn the focus around from myself to them, but also continue the conversation after that. I can talk, but the conversation only makes a positive impact when it can come back full circle. I like leaving a conversation thinking, "I enjoyed that!" which usually doesn't happen because I'm thinking of something I forgot or something I said wrong.

I had a professor in college tell me once that I struggled with "an economy of words." In short, I don't speak as concisely as I should. Each conversation is a struggle. I can use the backspace or delete key when I write something down I don't like, but I don't have one on my tongue and I tend to ramble to try and get my point across.

So it's even more important for me to turn the conversation around:

"How about you?"

Do you struggle with that? Do you walk away from conversations not quite sure if the other person got your drift? Do you say something and alarm bells immediately go off in your head? The solution: Don't make the conversation about you, even if you'd really like to talk about that awesome thing that happened. If they want to discuss it further, they will. Otherwise, just move it back to them.

"How about you?"

A better world, simply because we show more interest in others than we do ourselves.

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