Saturday, July 7, 2007

Say what you're thinking!

Do you ever get into a conversation with someone and they’re pontificating on something of immense import (to them), and you find yourself wondering, “What’s the point?”

Many times after being in a discussion with someone that went nowhere, I realized the best thing I could have said was exactly what was going through my mind at the time: What's the point? What does this have to do with what we’re discussing? This can make them either stop and spell out their argument or face up to the fact that they don't really have one (instead they have anecdotes, emotions, or assertions).

There are a lot of times when I think we need to just go with our gut response. When someone’s babbling, and you want to beat your head against the wall wondering why they aren’t listening to you, it’s best to stop them and ask that very question. If someone’s belaboring a point that isn’t relevant to the argument, point it out. If someone’s argument wouldn’t even seem logical to a four-year-old, point it out. Nicely.

That last part is the hardest part for me. I’ve worked hard to learn to stop keeping this stuff in. Now I need to find that filter that looks for a good way to phrase it. But that doesn’t change the situation: sometimes you just need to say what you’re thinking.

2 comments:

danny wright said...

I think this is good advice. I'd be interested in knowing how it has gone for you as you've tried it.

ChrisB said...

As I said before, my biggest problem now is to learn to do it nicely, but I have gotten somewhat better at using that (as well as some other tactics I'll hit on some time) to keep a conversation going in a productive direction.

Basically it is a way to drag someone (occasionally kicking and screaming) back to the conversation you started to have, and when I've remembered to use it, it's been reasonably effective at either bringing them back or identifying that they have no interest in having such a conversation.