Are You a Conversation Hijacker?

Conversation Hijacker

A hijacker is someone who seizes control of a plane or a car or even a conversation. Are you one of them?

I spotted a hijacker recently. It was at a social gathering of neighbors and friends. It was interesting for me to observe the people there and how they interacted with each other. I noticed one woman in particular, a neighbor of mine. You could never tell by looking at her, but by golly, she was a hijacker!

I have spoken with her in the past and she has expressed her frustrations at making friends. She says no one is interested in her, that nobody cares about her. And she doesn’t understand why.

The problem is that every time you are with her she immediately begins to talk about herself, and it’s nearly always about her health problems. You barely get past “hello” and she will immediately dive right in and start describing her last doctor’s appointment and explain it all in great detail – much more detail than most people want to hear. She’ll go on and on. Frankly, I don’t understand most of what she’s saying. She uses medical terms and concepts that I have no clue what they mean. I try to be a polite person and a good listener and I’ll nod my head and say “really” and “my goodness” once in a while. I wish I really understood what she was saying but I don’t! And honestly it’s very tedious to listen to her and very difficult to get out of the conversation.

The social gathering was a casual dinner at my neighbor’s home. I arrived a little later than most people and as I walked into the dining area I passed this woman. There she was talking to a lady about her latest medical problems. And with her, that’s pretty much the way it always is.

Several weeks ago I was out working in my yard. I had dug a big hole to repair some sprinkler valves. I enjoy that kind of work. It’s kind of fun to work with my hands and get some dirt under my nails. I’m a “fix-it” kind of a guy. So there I was working on my sprinklers when this neighbor walked up to me and began to talk. I didn’t really mind because I could work while she talked. I would nod my head and say “uh-huh” once in a while as she went on.

Well, she talked the whole time I was there working on my sprinklers, which was a good 2 ½ to 3 hours. It really didn’t bother me because I was getting something done, so she could talk all she wanted. She just kept going on and on and on telling me her whole medical history in microscopic detail. I just let her go at it. I knew it would make her feel better and she appreciated having somebody to listen to her.

After talking all this time something interesting happened. She suddenly stopped talking and was silent for a few moments. I think for the first time in a long time she actually ran out of things to say. Then she looked at me and said, “What are you doing there anyway?” I said, “I’m fixing these sprinkler valves.” She then asked me what was wrong with the sprinklers and I told her. For the next few moments she was actually interested in me and what I was doing.

Frankly, it was a remarkable event. It was the first time in all the time that I’ve known her that she has ever asked something about me and was interested in something I was doing. It was so refreshing. What a different feeling it was for me to have her actually interested in me.

Maybe you know somebody like that. Maybe you are somebody like that. Perhaps you are and you don’t even know it! I honestly think this neighbor of mine has no idea how she comes across to people. Maybe someday I will take her aside and we’ll have a little chat and I’ll explain to her the concept that if you want friends and you want people to be interested in you, you have to be interested in them. You’ve got to ask and talk about the other person. That’s the sign of a quality relationship when it’s a two-way conversation.

I encourage you to examine your interactions with others to determine if you are unintentionally hijacking the conversation. If the other person is glancing at their watch or their eyes are glazing over, you might have a problem. Make people glad they talked with you. Be interested in them and attentive to what they have to say. Those are the markings of a healthy, positive conversation.

Marketing Yourself, Part 4 – Improve Your Message

 

Your marketing message

(Note: This is Part 4 of a four-part series on Marketing Yourself)

Communicate your verbal message with care

People not only judge you by how you look but also by what you say and how you say it. How you talk about yourself, your work, your boss or even your competition sends a message about you. If you aren’t careful, your verbal communication can undo any other self-marketing efforts you may have made.

What kind of message are you communicating?

When you are around others, what kind of message do you bring to them? Is it positive or negative? Are you someone who continually complains about life, rarely having anything good to say? Do people like to have you around or do they cringe when they see you coming? Are you the storm cloud that goes around raining on everyone’s parade or are you the type of person that spreads cheer and sunshine? How you communicate is critical to building a positive reputation.

How you judge others will be how others judge you

We read a verse in the Bible that says, “Judge not that ye be not judged.” This is good advice for human relations too! Whenever you are in the process of judging others it gives other people a clue of how to judge you.

I have had the opportunity to counsel a number of married couples on the verge of divorce. I have noticed that whenever a husband or wife starts to tell me all the horrible, mean and nasty things the other partner has done, I learn more about the person who is doing the talking than the person they are talking about.

The repelling nature of complaining and criticizing

Complaining and criticizing give a bad impression. Have you ever noticed how uncomfortable and unpleasant it is to be in the presence of a chronic complainer? For me, to be around someone like that is like listening to fingernails dragged across a chalkboard. I just want it to stop or to get away from it. No only do people not like it but they are smart enough to subconsciously reason that if you are so negative about life and everyone around you then you must also think the same about yourself. If that’s the case then why would I want to associate with you?

Be of good cheer

We are told eight times in the Bible to “be of good cheer.” Usually this was told to people facing fairly dire circumstances. Proverbs 17:22 teaches: “A merry heart doeth good like medicine.” Let the message from your mouth be positive and cheerful and it too can be like medicine to others.

A wise man made this statement:

“In my lifetime I have seen two world wars plus Korea plus Vietnam and all that you are currently witnessing. I have worked my way through the depression and managed to go to law school while starting a young family at the same time. I have seen stock markets and world economics go crazy and have seen a few despots and tyrants go crazy, all of which causes quite a bit of trouble around the world in the process.

“So I am frank to say tonight that I hope you won’t believe all the world’s difficulties have been wedged into your decade, or that things have never been worse than they are for you personally, or that they will never get better. I reassure you that things have been worse and they will always get better. They always do…” – Howard W. Hunter (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter p. 202)

Upgrade your personal marketing message

Things may seem bad and even if they are you don’t need to go around continually telling everyone just how terrible things are. Every cloud has a silver lining. Look for it. Find it and focus on the good and positive things in life. Make the message you communicate to everyone around you be one that is pleasant and uplifting. You are judged by it. Your reputation is built on it. Create a positive self-marketing message and people will want to be around you, help you and do business with you.