The house was buzzing with conversation, so I knew everyone was chatting sociably. Being an Aspie I noticed when the buzz died down to just two voices.
Two people, fine, loving and caring people, were forcefully discussing a subject. Even though they were mostly in agreement, they completely obliterated the table talk. As an Aspie, I am always trying to learn from social situations, so I asked myself, how did they bring the pleasant social buzz to a dead halt? Here is what I noticed.
They talked louder than necessary.
This prevented others from starting up conversations with anyone else. It also made it easy for the eager talkers to “talk over” anyone attempting to join the conversation in normal tones.
They lectured, instead of conversing.
The difference is this: when conversing, a person makes a statement and adds something to it, but then they raise a question or ask an opinion of someone else–and then listen to attentively to the response. Two or three sentences with a question or just a plain stop, allows someone else to take up the conversation.
And what I realized? Conversation’s like a relay–it’s not my job to carry the torch all the way to the finish line. It’s my job to be the first to pass it on.
They used the social event to show how much they knew.
Whether or not that was their intent? It was the impression I got. You see, I heard another person tentatively offer a statement, and while he paused a moment to consider how to continue, the other two jumped in and snatched the conversation back. He never did get another chance to contribute.
And what this means to me? Is that the conversation wasn’t sociable. It was a platform. The two individuals were using the conversation to show how clever they were about a subject.
Both these people are great friends and good human beings. And I realized that both were unaware of what was happening around them.
Socializing is an interaction with other people, their ideas, interests and events. But–if you’re the only one talking, you’re like a runner in a relay race, going round and round without passing the baton.
The race is over. Your team is disappointed in your performance. They expected to be included, to participate in a meaningful way. Now, they are going to walk away, dismayed and determined not to have you on their team again.
Like the runner who never passed the baton, the conversationalist who doesn’t give others a chance to talk long enough to contribute in a meaningful way to the conversation, is not likely to be welcome again.
Being sociable is as easy as passing the conversational baton–two or three sentences, acknowledge others who wish to speak, and listen attentively when they do.
Looking back, I can’t help but wonder how often I’ve been guilty of the same faux pas. I’m sure I’m guilty of doing this on countless occasions. The trick is, now that I know better? I can stop myself, and draw others into the conversation..or change the topic altogether.
We keep learning, right? That’s what we’re here for.