Today, I managed to catch a portion of the Melissa Harris-Perry show (MSNBC cable) and she noted that today, they were going to call 2015 “The Year of Talk” for which is a phenomenally excellent idea.
She has a valid point that I have written about in a previous more extensive paper. This paper was originally only going on one of my posting sites but it deserves to be disseminated to a larger audience as communication, or talking, is critical to all walks of life.
People really do need to talk “TO each other” and not “AT each other.”
What is the point of even attempting to engage in a meaningful conversation when either one or both (or all) of the participants involved only talk at each other. Why have a conversation when neither (or one) participant only wants to get their point out without listening to the other(s) in that conversation.
Why have a conversation when one, both or all of the participants only give lip service to having a dialogue and never truly listen to the other(s). We simply have too many people who only want to hear themselves talk…
If we are going to talk to each other in a deeper and meaningful way, we have to “listen” to each other. And when I say ‘talk’ and ‘listen,’ I mean you really need to communicate and listen and let the content sink into the various portions of your brain’s Cerebral Cortex, such as “Broca’s area” and “Wernicke’s area” where both areas are for processing speech and listening (apparently speech and listen overlap in these areas of the brain). You have to pay attention to what is said and respond. You cannot just have a conversation where you are only talking about your content with no regard for what your counterpart is saying.
Who really wants to have that kind of conversation anyway?
Most of us, or rather, many of us want to have a meaningful conversation, even if it on some goofy topic or on a very serious topic.
You need to look at each other, into the eyes of the others as you have any kind of talk. You want to, or should, look at and into the other and not through the others in the conversation. You should not be looking through the other as if they were not there or did not matter as you natter on about your own topic and agenda.
You should be talking and building a relationship for that moment and for future engagements – that is what successful people and leaders do. You do not want to alienate the person you should be talking “to” by talking “at” them.
You should be listening!!! Give some considered thought to what the other(s) is saying. Yes, sometimes, the talk can be energetic, fast and free flowing when you are both (all) on the same page and wave length with the result of a fast moving conversation. Those are some of the best kinds of conversations.
But conversations come to a screeching halt and become disjointed when one person wants to ‘only’ talk on some extreme topic; or if one party wants to bully their way into the conversation and ‘only’ stay on one path without any regard to give and take or compromise.
To have a successful conversation or talk with others, you should be willing to engage with the other.
If you are not at a point to fully engage/invest in a conversation, you should at least be willing to listen with your full attention. If you cannot do so at that point, you should say so and come back to the conversation at a later date when you do have time.
The point here is that you have to invest in a worthwhile conversation. You should be willing to have good talks to move everyone forward because the only way to get anywhere is to TALK TO EACH OTHER and not TALK AT EACH OTHER. There is no point in having that conversation if one or more parties are not willing to give and take or even to agree to disagree.
And yes, you can have disagreeable conversations because even they yield fruit worthy of being plucked and culled for useful content. However, you should not come to the point of angrily raising your voices and yelling at each other – that is not a meaningful, valuable conversation, as many of us well know…
One valuable trait of a successful leader in any walk of life is that of recognizing NON-verbal cues of the person/people you are talking to. I had only implied that area here but am explicitly adding it now after I was just reminded of it in another article (“10 Things People With Effective Communication Skills Have In Common” written by Kayla Matthews at lifehack.org). It is critically important that you try to recognize and understand what those non-verbal cues are saying to you, in reaction to you.
Another couple of valuable traits of that successful leader (as you saw coming) are listening and talking TO the other(s). A successful leader looks at the other party doing the talking and makes that talker feel as if what they are saying or contributing to a conversation has some value, even if it really does not – you should make that feel as if they do have something valuable to contribute.
Of course, there is a point where you do have to cut it off if it just, well, rabble or pointless and a complete waste of time. But you should do it with some tact.
For forward progress in any endeavor, Listen and Talk TO each other… Who knows, you may even learn something you actually did ‘not’ know from that other…