Posts Tagged ‘conversational persuasion’

Power of Persuasion: Conversation Monopolizer? Check Your Plate.

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

At a dinner event, I’m watching interaction take place at a table directly across from me.  Three men and two women are talking about business and their common friends.  I notice one of the men, Bob, is a good storyteller.  He captures everyone’s interest and keeps it with a very amusing story.  Everyone laughs at the finale; then one of the women brings up her daughter who is applying to Brown University.  Bob immediately chimes in, “Great institution, you guys remember Jane? Her son got a full ride.  Jack, what was her son’s name?”  Bob continues with an admittedly interesting story about Jane’s son.  The woman who initiated the conversation never brings up her daughter again.  This pattern type continues for a while until Bob excuses himself.  Then, I watch for reaction.  One woman mouths to the group “I’m sorry”.  I’m not sure what the dynamics were there, but I am confident that nobody was happy with Bob’s monopolizing.

 Can you relate to this?  Have you spent time with “Bob” before?  Chances are that Bob would be embarrassed if he understood the reaction he created.  He appeared to be an affable and very intelligent person.  If 100 people are reading this blog, about 20 of you are unknowingly the “Bob” in your group. 

 The challenge:  Not even your best friend is going to tell you that you monopolize.

 The solution:  If nobody will tell you, how can you know?

 1)    From this point on, whenever you have a conversation, have an internal awareness of whether you are sharing airtime.

 2)    After a conversation, make a mental list of what you’ve learned about the other people and what they have learned about you.  Is there balance?

 3)    The dinner test:  If Bob had only looked at his plate he would have noticed his was full and the others were empty.  This is a great tip whenever dining with others.  Look at the dishes to find the monopolizers.  You may be surprised to find it is you.

 If you are a monopolizer then you are losing your persuasive edge.  The good news is that you are probably a great storyteller and very sociable.  Just being aware that you are a monopolizer can be a cure for the problem.  Also, you might ask your good friends to let you know when you are dominating the conversation.  With a bit of practice you will be well on your way to sharing airtime and being interesting by being interested.

 If you are in the company of a monopolizer, click into your segue mode.  Take responsibility for channeling the conversation away from the monopolizer and towards others.  It is very easy to do this in a group because you are not seeking airtime for yourself, you are simply asking someone else in the group a question.  In my anecdote above, the woman who mouthed “I’m sorry” to the group could have simply redirected the conversation to the other woman whose daughter was looking into Brown.  “Tell us more about why your daughter is choosing Brown.” Everyone at the table would have appreciated this redirection, and they would have appreciated her even more for doing it. She would have sharpened her persuasive edge in this case.

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