…The…Slow…Talker…. So Boring.
What can you learn from the slow guy?
Q: My colleague is the slowest talker in the world.
Each sentence he forms takes forever and we can all see where he’s going long before he gets there. I’m tempted to take up knitting whenever he makes a point in a meeting. We all finish his sentences.
Is that so wrong?
A: Some people want to be sure of what they are saying. For some people the internal editor stands with a bullwhip as words cower by the tongue. It could also be your colleague is intimidated by your work team. Do you or your team tend to jump in to argue or quickly quibble about word choice?
Consider counting to ten (or 50) when your colleague speaks.
And consider not finishing his sentences.
Being heard is a basic courtesy we offer each other. When we slow our listening to the pace of our conversation partner, we extend a bit of tangible grace and we demonstrate this person has value—no matter how boring they are. Maybe waiting in expectant silence will begin to change our slow-talking colleague. Maybe he will begin to feel more confident and less like he’ll be mugged for his word choices.
But even more importantly, waiting and expectantly listening trains us to listen for more than words, with more than our ears, to more of what might be going on. We’re used to instant, but not all of what we have for each other lends itself to instant. People need to process words and experiences and thoughts. If we rush them to the end, we likely speak for them, with our words, not theirs.
If your slow-talking colleague drains you with his long pauses and predictable boring comments, consider limiting time with him, just to save you both hassle. But when with him, give him time.
You may be surprised.
Image credit: Kirk Livingston