Come on. We’ve all met them. Criminals are everywhere, that is true, but sometimes they are in the most common of places. In a coffee shop, in the work place, at a party… killing conversations. Murdering a great chit-chat. Massacring a fun banter! Yes, they are the conversation criminals. Are you one of them? 🙂
I got the inspiration from my good friend, Mimi, to write this. She delivered a speech about these criminals, and I thought it be nice to share the Five Conversation Criminals she spoke about. I inserted in the scenarios and my own points in the list. 🙂
The interrogator is famous for the endless tirade of questions. He/She will not give their victims a chance to answer, instead, he/she will stop the victim from ever speaking by showering the poor soul with questions she can barely answer. Here is a sample scenario:
At a party, three friends talking about their recent vacation…
Friend 1: Yes, we spent our vacation in Davao…
Friend 2: Oh was it nice there?
Friend 1: Very!
Interrogator: Did you go to the Pearl Farm?
Friend 1: Well, no because –
Interrogator: How about in Samal? Did you go there? Did you hit the beach? Did you do some shopping?
Friend 1: Yes, and –
Interrogator: What can you say about their airport? Pretty small huh? Oh and did you ride one of those barges?
Yes, I know, most annoying! So how do we stop an interrogator from his crime? We can tell the person, politely, to let us finish answering the question, and in turn, let us ask him/her a question so he/she gets the chance to answer back.
Ah we have met the Braggart once or twice. Or thrice. Braggarts always have the “I am King/Queen of the World!” stories to tell, and they relate all of their accomplishments to the conversation. They love it when people tell them “you are everything and more.” They braaaag. Endlessly.
Scenario: At work, a team member was recently promoted…
Friend 1: Congratulations on the promotion! You’re now a Team Leader!
Friend 2: Thank you!
Braggart: Hey congratulations… you know I have been promoted too early in my career, a year after I started working here. Right well, you’ve been here 4 years, huh?
Friend 2: Yes…
Braggart: Well, you’ve been here long before me but I am a Project Leader now. You know, our Director said I really have a knack on handling operations… oh and yes, I’ll be finishing my six sigma training soon.. yes, black belt and all… oh and I have a coming US trip to you know, meet our colleagues there and train… they said I truly deserve it… Such accomplishments, I know…
So how do we help a braggart and prevent a him/her from committing a crime? The best way is to make the person feel valued and important, and subtly steer the conversation to other topics. If the braggart starts the “all about me” routine all over again, steer the talk back to the original point person of the conversation.
Ah the monopoliser is known for artfully entering a conversation before anyone notices what happened. The monopoliser never lets anybody else do the talking. He/she controls the flow of conversation, and often times he/she insists on topics that he/she is familiar with.
Scenario: At a coffee shop…
Friend 1: AH, this coffee is great!
Monopoliser: Oh definitely, I agree with you. You know, I’ve read somewhere that coffee was accidentally discovered in Ethiopia. Yes, there was this shepherd who saw his goat eat some unfamiliar berry and after a while, the goat started acting restless and it became very active.Yes, you see, they noticed their goats appearing to become frisky and “dance” after eating coffee berries. Originally, African tribes mixed coffee berries with fat which formed edible ‘energy balls!’ In 1867 the King of England banned coffee houses, claiming they were places where people met to conspire against him… Also, 70% of the world consumes Arabica beans… yes, and George Washington discovered instant coffee! Wonderful stuff, huh?
Friend 1 and 3: *blank stares* …….
Monopolisers are generally nervous persons, that is why they never stop talking. So how do we put them at ease and stop their crime? We should help them feel comfortable by focusing on them and ask them open ended questions. This way, everybody can participate in on the talk.
THE POOR SPORT
Ah well, this is criminal is more like… suicidal. The Poor Sport kills his/her own conversation, and is in love with the words “Ditto” and “Back at you!” It’s like he/she is not interested at all, and it is an instant conversation killer.
Scenario: At a bookshop…
Poor Sport: What do you think of the lesson in Art Appreciation?
Friend 1: It’s wonderful! I am particularly in love with Van Gogh’s paintings, surrealism at large yes. It captures the essence of a passing, fleeting moment.
Poor Sport: Ditto!
Friend 2: I agree. Still life paintings but the life and the vulnerability of the subject is there…
Poor Sport: Ditto!
Friend 1: His self-portrait is unnerving though.
Poor Sport: Ditto!
So how do we stop the poor sport from killing him/herself and the entire conversation? We ask open-ended questions, so that he/she will properly become part of the conversation. Let them actively participate in any conversations, as poor sports are typically shy.
Ah the interrupter is usually a driven and determined individual who always make a point, and is most of the time impatient and ill-tempered. This criminal will prevent a person from ever finishing a sentence!
Inside a car:
Friend 1: I mean, why read the book when you can watch the movie right?
Interrupter: (eyes wide open in shock) You stop that right now! What is your argument? Of course you have to read the book first! The details are all there, you simply cannot miss it!
Friend 3: Yeah we get that… but it’s tedious… and –
Interrupter: It’s because you don’t even try. And I don’t think you get it, because if you do, you should be reading it right now. The book is always rich in detail and it lets you direct the whole scenario in your mind. While adaptations tend to deviate….
Friend 1: Yes but we’re just after the entertainment –
Interrupter: Well what is the point of the whole book? You have to savour it. Don’t take it for granted! It’s offensive!
Friend 2: We get it alri –
Interrupter: I don’t think you do!
How do help an interrupter? We again ask open-ended questions, and politely ask him/her to let us finish our thoughts first, or else, our chance will never come at all!
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen! The top Five conversation criminals! I am pretty sure you have encountered them… but beware, they could be you. 🙂
What types of conversation criminals have you encountered before? And what did you do or say to stop them? Feel free to share!
- 10 Ways to Listen More. Talk Less. Teach Well. (coolcatteacher.blogspot.com)