Recently I walked away mentally exhausted from a conversation with a gentleman who I met for the first time. I will call him Bob for the sake of this discussion. Bob was a nice guy, but his biggest problem was that the conversation was all about Bob. Don't get me wrong, Bob asked me questions about me, but I never got the feeling that he wanted to hear my answers. Often he would look away or look over my shoulder while I answered. I kept thinking to myself, "is he THAT bored with me already, or is he just easily distracted like my labrador, Jax?"
What really bothered me and eventually made me cut the conversation short was that every time Bob asked me a question, he would somehow find a way to pivot the attention back to him. "Oh, that is interesting. I like wine too. In fact, let me tell you about my wine collection…" "You like to ride bikes? I went on a recent ride that was amazing…" "You are a BD coach? I was a coach once. Let me tell you about it…"
At that point, Bob lost me. My mind started to wonder and I was looking for a way out of the conversation.
Does this behavior from Bob come from insecurity? Lack of awareness? A need for appraisal?
In his case, it seemed to be a combination of all three. The perfect combination to end a conversation and affect any future conversations.
How many of you have met someone like Bob before? I suspect many of you have.
How many of you have been Bob in a conversation? I would venture to guess that all of us have to a certain degree.
We have all heard about how important first impressions can be. Don't let your first impression on someone else be all about you and your firm. Learn more about them first. Listen actively and ask the question behind the question to show them that you care.
The true professional has nothing to prove and doesn't need other people to praise them or accept them. They are humble and allow others to shine in the conversation.
If you can remember to error on the side of more active listening and less talking, you will be amazed at how much more effective you will be in developing meaningful relationships both professionally and personally.
In other words, don't pull a "Bob"!