Are you talking to me or at me?

Ever have someone ask your opinion and then proceed to talk “at you?” Guess what? They really didn’t want to hear your opinion. Basically, they wanted an audience and – at that time – you were just perfect, thank you very much. The exchange was one-sided because they wanted to tell you things not hear what you had to say about anything.

The people that talk at you mistakenly believe they are having a conversation. They’re not. A conversation involves talking with people; having a discussion and exchange of ideas; everyone is equally engaged and actively participating.

When someone continually talks at you, it can get annoying. I mean, really. If you just need an audience, go stand in front of the mirror to deliver your monologue and don’t waste my time. Right? Ever feel that way? Of course, you have. I get it. People need to vent sometimes and that’s okay. If that’s the case, just tell me up front. Then I know the rules. But if you ask my opinion and then talk at me, my non-verbals will surely give away how the “conversation” is going.

Talking at someone is much less effective that talking to or with someone. Think about it. If you are so busy getting your message across, you aren’t thinking about how that message is being received or whether your remarks are appropriate or what non-verbal cues your audience is displaying or reading the messages between the lines.

And, oh the things you will hear – and learn – when you really listen to people and let them share their feedback! Two-way dialogue improves relationships with people; makes you more approachable, makes you real. Just saying.

Now go have a real conversation and have a great weekend.

Posted by MJ Thomas

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