Monday, September 05, 2005

Conversationalist Wannabes

Over time I’ve come to find out that there are certain types of people that are just impossible to have a conversation with.  Of course someone is going to say that if you are sociable enough that you can manage to find a way to carry on a conversation with anyone, you just have to know how to do it, but I will disagree with that person, and quite vehemently.

At work, a couple of the people that we do business with will take the time to socialize with us, which is always a good thing.  I’d rather work with someone that I know and can converse with than work with someone who is only completely concerned with business matters.

The odd thing about these couple of people is that they will talk to you, talk your ear off even, but they will be as far away from holding a conversation as if they simply weren’t speaking to you.  There is a definite difference between people that talk just for talking sake and those who actually allow participation in a conversation.

As I was talking to these people, it became quickly apparent that they had no desire whatsoever for me to be an active participant in what they were talking about.  As I would try to interject my own thoughts or make an addition to something they said, I’d be met with a look that screamed out, “excuse me, I am talking and you are listening and I did not say that could change.”

Fine, I could deal with that.  I find that I can quite easily pick out when people aren’t actually interested in talking to me, at which point I let them go on and on while I simply ignore them.  What was interesting this time, other than the fact that I didn’t have the option of ignoring them or leaving, is that these two people seemed to be in heavy conversation with each other but, in fact, neither of them were actually participating in a mutual conversation—they were just taking turns talking.

At this point I was drawn back into the conversation, not because I wanted to participate, or attempt to participate, but because I was intrigued by how both of them could be so seemingly engrossed in each other’s words, yet they simply weren’t paying attention.

They would go on and on telling stories about themselves, but it seemed more like a chess match.  One would talk about him/herself for a bit, then there would be a pause at which point the other would tell a story about him/herself.  Then there would be a pause so the original speaker would continue his/her story, then pause, and the other would continue his/her story.  This happened the entire time I was with them.  

Amazingly, I don’t think they ever once actually related to each other.  They may have used each other’s stories for springboards to start their own stories, but that was as close to actual interaction as they’d get.

Amazingly, there are altogether too many people that I’ve met in the corporate business world that operate in this manner.  It seems almost like a prerequisite for becoming successful in the business world—that you can no longer hold actual conversations, but instead can only talk about yourself over and over again.  Talk about soulless and boring.  

No comments: