Friday, February 13, 2009

Overtalkers Annonymous

Ever had to deal with overtalkers?  They're the people who think that you want to hear everything they have to say, and can't take a hint that you stopped listening a few minutes ago?  I do a lot of counseling, and I'm aware that sometimes when people come to talk about their problems, they can't quite explain just what they're going through and they end up going around in circles a bit, trying to work things out in their minds.  That's fine, and sometimes that's the only way to sift through the confusion of feelings and thoughts to finally pinpoint what's wrong. But what I'm talking about are those people that are supposed to know what they're talking about; those who are supposed to have their answers already figured out before you came to them.  

"So how much time will it take before these ant colonies in my roof will disappear?" I ask the pest-control guy.

"Well, ya have to know the way these little guys think.  Studies have shown that ants are highly intelligent and can evade termination for long periods of time.  In fact there was a study in the University of Michigan...or was it Wisconsin?  No, no I think it was published in Ant World Monthly, I could get you a copy of it if you'd like, that described the mating habits of the New Guinea spotted wood ant, and you know ma'am, when you're an expert like me......

Meanwhile I'm standing at my front door with a plastic grin on my face, nodding every two seconds pretending to care and thinking,  "Will you just do your job and leave?!"  

It's really interesting being on the opposite side of the conversation when you're the one used to dishing out the advice and answering the questions.  The worst thing is to imagine that everyone else wants to hear ourselves talk, and that we already know what they want to hear even if they didn't ask. For those of you out there who spend a lot of time counseling in your churches or schools, beware of the plastic grin, the constantly nodding head, the glazed look in the eyes - you're boring the pants off of them, I guarantee.  Listen first, and think hard about what comes out of your mouth, and make sure it's what they're ready and need to hear. 

And guess what?  The ants magically disappeared, and I still haven't read a single journal on them.  Amazing.  

3 comments:

Debora said...

Once I saw in a movie that in conversations, one is not really talking to you, he/she is just waiting for his/her turn to talk....

The "plastic grin" is something for us to think about though...

Marcia Pires said...

Funny to read about the story of the ants... but hard task to realize that one day I might have been "an expert" in any matter and instead of helping someone out, I have actually scared her away....

Cristiane Cardoso said...

It's always like this... the bad looks good and the good looks bad, the right is wrong and the wrong is right. We have ears but we can't hear, we have eyes but we can't see....