Of course you do. But that’s part of the problem.
Raise your hand if you’re not a morning person. I’m raising my hand. And the other. And standing up. On my tip-toes. And jumping up and down. OK, OK…exaggerations aside, mornings are not my strength. I need some time to wake up, which usually happens on my morning walk, iPod blaring my music of choice for the whole 25 minutes.
My roommate knows this. Not just because I’ve told him (which I have, multiple times), but because he’s witnessed my sullenness before 8AM. However, he just doesn’t seem to get it. Take yesterday for instance. He returned from his run to see me sitting on the couch eating my morning cereal and reading a book. I said hello (I’m half-asleep, not rude) and returned to reading. Since we hadn’t seen each other since the previous Friday he said, “Oh, how was your weekend by the way,” to which I responded, “It was good. I’m not functional enough to talk about it right now though.” He merely shrugged back and said, “Yeah, I’ve noticed you’re not good in the mornings. You’re really not your usual self,” before shutting up. I was shocked! Finally, after 3 months, he gets in: let’s not talk before work.
Two minutes later he interjects again to say, “So did you do anything fun over the weekend?” I glared at the book I was reading and said “Yes,” before leaving it at that and ignoring the rest of the dribble that came out of his mouth.
Did you HEAR yourself speak? You just said it yourself that I’m bad in the mornings at conversation and at the same time witnessed my disinterest in chatting. And yet, you’re still trying to make small talk. Are you kidding?
Too often, this kind of thing crops up in the workplace. People – executives, managers and employees alike – are so consumed by their own agendas that they ignore (sometimes willingly and purposefully, as in the case of my dear roommate) the verbal and non-verbal cues set out by others. Frequently, it’s innocuous and the thing that suffers is along the lines of my frustration level and my inability to read a book in the morning. But even something innocuous occurring on multiple occasions produces immense irritation. And more disconcerting still is when it’s not innocuous and the self-involvement has greater consequences.
So what’s the solution? Obviously, it depends on the situation and the people involved. But I think it’s safe to say we could all benefit from getting out of our own heads once in a while. We all love to hear ourselves speak (and that goes double quadruple for anyone who blogs), but – believe it or not – not everyone cares what we have to say (oh no! the truth!). Listening to someone else for a change and actually hearing what they say will make a lot of difference. Short-term, it may just be solving a minor problem, but long-term, the mere act of listening when you would’ve previously inserted your own babble will go a long ways to patching or strengthening a relationship. Think about it as a tennis match: you can either choose to play singles against each other or team up and play doubles together and beat someone who’s clearly a beginner. Tough choice, I realize.
Have you ever dealt with someone droning on when you wanted to start a dialogue about it but just couldn’t interject? Or, if you’re brave enough to admit it, were you the one who sucked it up and stopped the word vomit for a minute to listen to someone else with good results? Show me some love, let me know.