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Are you a conversational tailgater?


I made up the term “conversational tailgating” when learning about effective communication.

There were certain patterns of behaviour people can exhibit in conversation that reminded me of tailgating on the roads.

Listening for gaps to insert yourself into the discussion rather than truly listening.

Finishing peoples sentences for them.

Showing or verbalising irritability for someone to hurry up and get to the point.

Feeling the need to make the discussion about you.

Do you recognise yourself in any of this or have you been told you do this?

I’m not passing judgement here. I know I’ve been guilty of this during normal conversation in the past and I still do it but I’ve made real improvement with practice.

How do we go about doing this?

Slooooow down! If you’re always in a rush it’s likely your brain is too. If you’ve an important meeting, personal or professional, be there comfortably ahead of time. Give your mind time to slow down and relax.

Check your ego at the door. If you feel the urge to butt in ask yourself why? Is it because you think you know better? Do you really?

Be present. Let go of listening for the gaps and tune into what people are saying and watch their body language.

Realise you’re still important even if you don’t say a word.

Practicing these skills can lead to deeper and seemingly paradoxically quicker communication and interaction. The person will feel heard properly, feel more valued because you listened and as a result the outcome will be more what you both wanted.

Here’s the funny thing. Practice this regularly with people in all walks of your life and there’s a very good chance they will start doing this too.

Guess what happens? You are heard fully too.

Beautiful how that works isn’t it?


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