When a topic fascinates us, we Aspies can talk for hours.
Unfortunately, speaking in itself, does not constitute a conversation.
It is listening to someone else and then responding to their information that allows for an exchange of ideas.
This can be a hard lesson for us Aspies to learn.
I once had a book published on tax; on money that people receive when they are downsized and what happens to them tax-wise when they do. I called it Jack and Stanley’s Buyout Adventure.
A human resource manager called. He had read the book and wondered if I would come and talk to him about doing seminars for his employees. He worked for a mining company and the mine was shutting down.
I drove all the way up to Logan Lake from the coast and met a very pleasant man. One who told me he had read the book all the way through just to find out what happened to Jack and Stanley in the end.
That book, as well as being about income tax, was also my first published attempt at characterization and I was flattered to hear it so well received.
In response, I spoke for what seems in retrospect, an hour without once asking him what he and the employees needed.
I’ve been over it a thousand times in my mind. What would a better approach have been?
Maybe something like this: Hello, my name is Margaret and I am thrilled you like my book, Now, what is it you have in mind? How do you see me working with your employees during this closure?
That would have shown a real interest in his dilemma as a human resource person, and also illustrated the fact that I wasn’t just there to tout my book, but rather to be a real help to these men who were being laid off.
Instead, with his encouraging first remarks, I launched into a long history of the book and how it came to be and what it meant to me. I doubt I let him get in a single word.
Needless to say, I did not get the opportunity to give any seminars. Instead, I got to drive all the way back home again, berating myself for a personality flaw that I knew only too well; one that I vowed to work hard to conquer.
In a way, that day was a gift. One from which I have benefitted over and over. It taught me a lesson: It is never just about me. A fruitful conversation always includes others, and that requires not so much talking, as truly listening.