We have all been in a conversation where it feels like every time you talk about something the other person interrupts with their experience on the matter. Heck, you might be the one that interrupts others. The point is we have been on the receiving end and giving end of this bad habit.
How to resist making everything about yourself in conversations
Are you a conversation hijacker or an autobiographical listener? Here's what to know about this behaviour and how to change it.
Whether it is poor conversation skills or deprivation of conversation for extended periods, this habit is more common than you think. It is a habit of listening to respond or filtering another person's experience through our personal stories.
Here's how to stop it and bring back life to your conversations.
Focus on the speaker
Practice empathic listening where you seek to understand what the other person is saying by taking in the recount of their experience. You can focus on their body language, their tone, and their feelings, all of which contribute to what they are saying. You can catch most of what they are not saying by listening in this manner.
Ask for verification
Show them that you are listening by asking them what they mean and paraphrasing what they are saying. Reframe what they are saying and ask follow-up questions to confirm whether you got them right. Then leave it to them to confirm or deny.
"Do unto others...."
Put yourself in that person's shoes at a time your experience was hijacked during a conversation. It probably didn't feel good. So do the other person a solid by giving them what you didn't get. Trust that your turn will come to be heard, and let the other person have your attention and space.
Ask them what they want
People have different needs when it comes to conversation. The best way to figure that out is by asking. Is it advice, a place to vent, or to share ideas? Instead of guessing ask them what they are looking for so you will be best suited to give it to them.
Watch out for 'topping' and 'matching'
When someone tells you about their experience, there are two ways you hijack the conversation. Topping, when you tell them of a similar experience you had and how much better it was, and matching, when you tell them of a similar experience you had some time in the past.
Give yourself a time frame for talking and then handover to the other person. You may not be an obnoxious person, but nerves and excitement can make people ramble and go on forever about certain things. Find a balance between talking about your experience and diving deep into the other person's experience.
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