We’ve all experienced them. Those conversations where, when you walk away, you wonder if anyone other than yourself heard anything you had to say. You are immediately concerned if any of the next steps that were mentioned will be followed up on. I’ve been in many of those conversations and, honestly, have caused a few as well. However, over time, I’ve learned how to try to avoid this situation.
So, here are five tips to avoid annoying conversations:
1. Don’t play the “one-up” game.
Although it is tempting to want to “one-up” a story of how you did X, Y or Z, hold back. While your story may seem entertaining, it can often come across to the other person as, “That’s nothing. Let me tell you about what I did.” And that can be annoying.
2. If you ask the question, don’t answer it.
This one seems simple but, so many times, I’ve seen people (including myself) ask a question and then jump in with an assumed response. If you have asked a sincere question, and want to know the answer, be quiet and let the person answer it. Not only will prevent annoyance, but you will also get better information.
3. Don’t get annoyed with “stupid” questions.
Conversations are all about learning from one another. So, you can’t get frustrated when someone asks a question that seems “stupid” to you. It’s not stupid to them, so be sure not to make them feel that way.
4. Be sure they know you heard them
One of the most important things you can do in a conversation is listen, then repeat what you heard back to the person – especially for content that is important for you to understand. When you repeat it back, the other person can be confident that you heard them properly (and correct you, if not). Otherwise, they could walk away wondering if you really understood what they said.
5. End with a clear set of next steps
Before the conversation is over, clearly communicate any follow up steps. This will ensure that everyone knows how and when the conversation should continue, and what people’s roles and responsibilities are in the interim. It helps to put it in writing after the meeting as well, to confirm that you and your colleague(s) are on the same page.
While these tips may not prevent conversations about annoying or frustrating topics, they will help ensure that the conversations themselves are less so.
Thanks for reading.