So if you’ve read the previous posts on Listening, you will know the first two skils: Eye Contact and Pay Attention. “Geez, how many skills are there?” Many more, so just sit tight! So the next one is appropriately named…
Skill # 3 - Don’t Rush!
You know the look. While you are speaking these are the people who look like a goldfish out of water with their mouths silently opening and closing waiting for the millisecond for you to stop. Some don’t even wait for you to stop and just blurt right out interrupting you. I must admit that I used to be one of these goldfish. But now I’m a reformed goldfish!
It’s not a race. It is okay to take the time you need after they speak to formulate a response. Because if you try to rush the response, you may have missed some very important details while your mind was absent thinking of a response.
By rushing/interrupting, the unspoken communication conveyed is, “What I am sayings is WAY more important than what you have to say!” The only message they receive is that you do not value them nor what they have to say. Nobody really likes feeling like that (even if what you are saying is 100% true/valid/etc). Rush and Interrupt people often enough, and nobody will want to talk to you anymore.
The story I have to accompany this point comes from when I watched my colleague almost lose his job on the spot…
I was just hired and my boss was training me in her office on her computer. She got an important phone call and she wanted me to wait for her to finish. So I sat patiently.
Suddenly, a fellow colleague of mine (who also reported to my boss) burst through her office door. He did not knock he came running through.
My boss put up her hand to indicate, “Hold on a second”.
He saw that she was on the phone and like a 4 year old child was hopping up and down saying, “But… But… But…”
She covered the phone and said to him, “I will be with you in a moment. This is important. I will come get you when I’m done.”
But he didn’t leave. He was still hopping up and down, now was trying sign language , and silently mouth to her what he wanted to say - which clearly had nothing to do with her very important phone conversation.
Finally she had to tell the other person on the line, “I’m sorry, you will have to excuse me, apparently one of my employees is on fire. Let me call you back in five minutes.”
She then politely asked me to leave her office and shut the door behind me, leaving my colleague in the room with her. What happened next was the entire floor heard her explode at him with scream reverberating through the closed office door, “How DARE you do that to me! That was extremely RUDE and DISRESPECTFUL! Don’t you EVER interrupt me again unless you are REALLY on fire! Do you understand me? I do not care what you have to say. In fact, leave my office NOW and do not show me your face again today!”
So what did he have to say that was SO important that he almost lost his job? He was going to lunch ….