Are You Totally Dominating the Conversation?

Robert Terson

Two annoying conversations I had—one on the telephone, one face-to-face in a restaurant—influenced me to write today’s blog. Both were with professional sales trainers, who shall remain anonymous; I have no wish to embarrass anyone. Both men have successful businesses, are in their late 40s, early 50s, with lots of experience under their belts—we’re not talking about a couple of rookies here. Both were interesting and likeable, except for their wearisome need to (1) completely dominate the conversation; (2) brag incessantly about how unique and successful their methodologies are, that no one else does what they do; and (3) constantly interrupt and direct the conversation back to themselves, which after a while became annoying to the Nth degree. Really, I couldn’t complete a thought without getting interrupted. It was so blatant it short-circuited my brain and I started looking for it.

Dominating the Conversation: I have no doubt both sales trainers I spoke to, when they’re training people, preach the direct opposite of what they were personally practicing; otherwise they wouldn’t be successful. A true sales professional understands what my late father liked to point out—there’s a good reason we have two ears and only one mouth; he wants to get the other guy talking, so he can ascertain the information necessary to serve the prospect/customer.  So, let me ask you, Do you practice what you preach?—personally, as well as professionally?

Brag Incessantly: I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but let me remind you—no one likes a braggart! It’s boring as hell and all it actually does is reveal the depth of the braggart’s insecurities. Deep down he’s trying to convince himself, as well as you, that he’s as cool as he’s portraying himself to be. A confident individual, the real McCoy, has no need to tell you how wonderful he is, how successful he is, none at all. He’s Cary Grant in North by Northwest, not Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.

Constantly Interrupting: If you consistently interrupt others, you’re showing them that they don’t matter to you, that you have no interest in their thoughts or opinions, not one bit. You’re demonstrating in no uncertain terms that it’s all about you—period, they don’t count a shred. You can tell them you care, but keep in mind what F. Scott Fitzgerald said: “Action is character.”  It’s never about what you say; it’s always about what you do.

Let me suggest you monitor yourself at all times when conversing with people—personally, as well as professionally. If you catch yourself dominating the conversation, bragging, interrupting, immediately put a halt to it and say something like, “But enough about me; tell me about yourself—I’m all ears.”

Then listen like your life depended upon it. All the great ones are good listeners.


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