Today while driving through traffic I got stuck at an exceptionally long traffic light. As I took a moment to look in my rear view mirror; I observed a scene that made me feel really, really sad. In the driver’s seat was an older woman who appeared highly agitated; pounding her hand on the steering wheel while talking without seemingly taking a breath! Sitting beside her was a teenage young woman wearing dark glasses and looking out the window shaking her head “No”.
THIS is what an unsuccessful conversation looks like. I can know for certain that what was taking place was a monologue, not a dialogue between to engaged individuals! Just from my observation, one person was expressing their thoughts while the other was disengaged. This never,ever works!
In my coaching practice I always use this statement as I help my leaders learn to become incredible communicators; “If you throw the ball you want to do it in such a way that the ball can be caught!” Meaning…try to have conversations, even in a conflict, where the end result is that both individuals can be heard, can express their thoughts agreeing to disagree if necessary, and where their can be some kind of resolve or understanding.
I recognize that the interaction I observed in the car today could have easily been a mother “severely scolding” her wayward teenage daughter; I am sure there was a very real back story. Nevertheless, I can say for sure that the conversation did not end well.
In any crucial conversation both individuals must be engaged. It never produces resolve to talk “at” a person. Add anger to that mix and well, the conversation cannot end well.
If you find yourself habitually talking “at” family and friends; consider engaging in conversations in a fresh way! Throw that conversational “ball” with a good goal!! 🙂