So, I’m hoping some of y’all have this skill, because I do not.
I’m pretty good at having a one-on-one conversation.
I’m lousy at in-person conversations with more than one other person, unless I’m dominating the conversation (or sometimes if the conversation has another clear leader). When I’m at the center of the conversation dominating, I understand the flow of conversation, how to listen, and how to respond to what people are actually saying.
When I’m trying to participate equally in a group, I get very confused and tend to fall back on trying to dominate. It comes off like I think my voice is the most important, but I actually don’t, I just don’t really know how to have a group conversation. I’m hoping some of y’all do?
Have any of y’all figured out how to participate fully in group conversations without dominating?
Oh god, this is such an issue for me and it took me a really long time to understand that my “I’m so excited about this I want to share every thought immediately as I have it because this is so cool and I’m exploding with thoughts!” was coming off as “I think I’m smarter than everyone here and I don’t care what anyone else has to say”.
I also have a really, really bad habit of hearing the first few words people say and guessing that I know what they mean and wanting to get on with the conversation already and not wait for them to say the same thing over and over until they’re ‘done’. (Which it is much easier for me to see how obnoxious that is when I write it out that way.) It’s not just that I guess wrong—I do sometimes and I don’t sometimes—it’s that I’ve learned that even for the times that I do understand them right away, it’s really important for people to articulate all their thoughts fully because they may be understanding something about their own thoughts by saying them out loud. If I interrupt them, I’m interrupting their thought process and not giving them a chance to engage with their own ideas. I’m also creating a hostile environment where they don’t feel heard or cared about.
What helps me most is taking notes. I’m really bad at auditory processing and often I worry that I’m going to forget what I have to say if I don’t say it right away because I can’t hold one thing in my head while I’m focusing on a bunch of incoming auditory information (so I have about as much trouble with one-on-one conversations as I do group conversations). Sometimes that means letting go of the need to communicate everything I’m feeling if it’s more important to share the space. If I’m not dominating a conversation, I do tend to become more the “quiet person who interjects a key comment now and then”. It’s hard to have middle ground. But if there’s any possible way for me to write down jot notes of my ideas without being rude or weird (this works great in business meetings, not so well in casual social conversations), then that immediately relieves the pressure to remember everything and helps me engage with the conversation more fully.
tl;dr I have trouble with this because I get very excited to share my thoughts, get impatient if I feel people are repeating themselves, and I also fear forgetting what I want to say if I can’t say it right away. I deal with this either by accepting the fact that it’s more important to share the talking time and just add in a few important thoughts as I can, or by writing down my thoughts as I have them so I can add them when I get the chance.
Oh wow, yes. Taking notes *does* help a lot. I forgot about that.