Monday, February 16, 2009

Are you bored while others are Talking?

Recently in one of my corporate seminars, a very attractive man was in attendance. He was young, muscular in build and dressed well. He looked as if he had everything in the world going for him. When it came to his turn to share what he would like to get out of that day’s session, he said he’d like to be able to close more sales. I thought to myself, “interesting! He seems like the type of person anyone would buy from based on his appearance.” Then, an interesting thing happened. I started the seminar, and he got out his blackberry and started typing.

Within minutes of him doing his own thing, I took a break and went back to the fellow to see if everything was okay. He said yes and that he was just answering emails. I asked him if he felt he was going to get the best out of the seminar without spending time IN the seminar listening, he said he would take time to listen. After the break, he had put away his Blackberry, but now, he was writing in his notebook. Nothing I did seemed to bring his attention back around to the seminar. So, I changed my tactic. I asked everyone buddy up and work together in threes, to practice pitching their company after engaging in small talk as people do.

I watched from the side and noticed that he was electric when it was his time to pitch. He was animated. He was engaging. But when it was time to listen, he became completely distracted, bored and somewhat disengaged from his conversation partners.

When I spoke with his group about their exchange with one another, I encouraged them all to discuss how it was engaging with each other. I specifically asked the other two how it was when they were talking with the young, attractive man. They both sheepishly admitted that they felt like he was disinterested, bored and only cared about his own message and not about theirs.
I asked if he felt if any of this behavior might impact his sales and his closing ratio? He said that he had ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and that he had been told that he wasn’t a good listener. He knew that it was impacting his relationships and his work but he still didn’t know how to change or improve that. Knowing that a person has difficulty with staying focused in conversations is the first part to correcting it. I shared with him one way to stay focused is to focus on the person to make sure they’re comfortable in conversation. Making sure that you’re physically mirroring them is one way to make them comfortable, and remaining good eye contact is another. Asking questions to further the conversation will allow them to feel like you’re engaged in the conversation and finally remaining eye ball to eye ball eye contact is essential. I shared with them that there is and eye “glare” which tells the person, “hurry up so I can talk” or there is the soft eye, that says, “I’m interested in you.” Practicing these skills in the mirror at home will help in the real world. But yet, he does have a point. I have worked with clients whose mind wanders off so quick that it is really uncomfortable. So, I called a friend of mine, Dr. Rex Birkmire of Birkmire Behavioral Health in Winter Park to ask him if ADD can cause a person to lose focus in a conversation and here is what he said: “The answer is yes. ADD does cause people to lose focus and often interrupt . The entry to the ADD mind is often an unfiltered mind with numerous distractions from inside and out. As a result their consciousness is flooded with information and distractions that result in poor focus, poor concentration, poor listening skills, poor memory and finally interrupting . Medications often help the brain to focus better so one is able to listen as well as remember conversations, and finally allows the listener to have enough focus and concentration to remember what they want to say with out having to interrupt the other person.” In today’s world with daily information overload, it seems like everyone suffers from a little ADD. Taking care of kids, a house, a job, maintenance on the cars, career growth, vacations, pets, etc.. its overwhelming for most people! But for a person who does have a different brain chemistry which interferes with every day life, then they just can’t keep up. There are many alternatives to curing or managing ADD including homeopathic health remedies, supplements, and exercise. If its getting in the way of your every day life, then it’s time to take charge and investigate it to see what you can do to ensure that you’re able to engage in relationships at full capacity. Here are a few quotes from some great Communicators
When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen. Ernest Hemingway
"It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much." --Yogi Berra "Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery."
-- Joyce Brothers "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."
--- Winston Churchill Amen to that!!! So lets shut those mouths and give others their fair share! After all, they deserve to have some fun too!