Monday, March 8, 2010

Blah, Blah, Blah…oh, no!...chatter patter…humor about communication

March 8, 2010

Blah, Blah, Blah…oh, no!

I love reading, I love research, I love learning new things and I love spending time alone which is just about right because that’s what happens – the spending time alone part – when your short list of preferred activities that excite you consist of these three elements. Nonetheless, while I’m pursuing my entertainment triad I often learn things that create, “Aha!” moments or, in this case, “Blah, blah, blah” moments.

Witness yesterday when I was reading one of my favorite magazines, Psychology Today. While the “What Your Sexual Fantasies Reveal” title emblazoned on the front of this very fine periodical, certainly grabbed my attention, it’s the article about how to know if you’re boring that had me transfixed. (Please don’t try to figure out why, it’ll only hurt both of us.)
Evidently, there is a woman who has a blog called, The Happiness Project and you’re not going to be able to stop me before I say, “Boy, no truer words were said than that: happiness IS a project!” At least that’s out of the way now.

She has actually devised a list of seven red flags to watch for lest you’ve rendered yourself deadly dull and you care enough to assess such a state. Now, you would think yawning and leaving would be included in this list, but those are “no brainers” in that you’re familiar with those types of unwanted responses, so here are some “fresh” ways to assess your conversational acumen and note whether you need to kick it up a notch with your chatter patter.
You want to note the following:

1. Repeated, perfunctory responses. If a person keeps saying, “Oh, really?” or “Wow” or “Huh. I did not know that,” they are not particularly engaged.

Can I hear an “Uh-oh!” out there? Anyone else out there guilty of these types of comments, receiving or giving? My personal non-favorite to receive? “Good for you!” Yuck!

2. No interruptions. We often think it’s rude to be interrupted, but who knew that this is actually a sign that you’re so doggoned interesting the person is “bursting to respond.”

Now this one confused me a mite, inasmuch as how do you tell the difference between someone who is excited by what you’re saying and someone who is just so “over” your conversation that they are commandeering it before they submit to temptation and poke you with something sharp because you’re so dull? I guess it’s a personal call.

3. Simple questions. People who are interested ask more complicated questions that show curiosity, not mere politeness.

I would think this means that if someone asks you, “Is this story about over?” that would not constitute a complicated question.

4. Body position. People with a good connection generally turn to face each other. A person who is partially turned away isn’t fully embracing the conversation.

It gives a whole new meaning to the comment, “I’ve got to run,” doesn’t it?

5. No requests for clarification. A person who is sincerely interested will ask you to elaborate or explain.

Darn it! So all those times when I asked my students if there were any questions and there were none, it wasn’t because I had covered the material soooo well?!

6. Abrupt changes in topic. If you’re talking to someone about, say, global warming and all of a sudden they bring up a totally different topic like psoriasis, then you’ve lost them. (I just wanted to show all of you that I know how to spell psoriasis. Huh. But you wouldn’t know whether I had spellchecked it. Darn it! Another opportunity to impress gone by the wayside.)

7. Squirming. An audience that’s still and upright is interested, while an audience that’s slouching and squirming would rather be doing something else.

I’m going to have to add an “unless” to this one…UNLESS said audience was offered a two for one special on sodas during the intermission, in which case they simply succumbed to a cost-savings opportunity, leading to the poor timing that is having to use the facilities before the end of the performance. In this case, they are squirming and slouching so as not to have a Depends moment.

[Most of text contained within the seven signs is excerpted directly from the article. Psychology Today, March/April 2010, Page 26.]

1 comment:

  1. Oh, dear, your personal non-favorite perfunctory response made me squirm. How many times have i said "good for you!"? Not because i am not thoroughly engaged and spellbound but because i can barely lasso the brain energy to make head nods let alone articulate a thoughtful well constructed response --ha.