Day 53: Closing my eyes to what I’m hearing

Yesterday, I spoke about a book I was reading called Playing Big. The author was talking about something that I always thought was to my advantage, but it gave me pause to think that it could actually be a disadvantage. Wow. I love ideas that challenge my thinking!

The concept is based on the idea that women are generally more adept at reading body language and picking up on nonverbal clues. This ability gives the observer more information about thoughts and feelings than someone who doesn’t pick up on nonverbals.

The bonus for those who don’t pick up on nonverbals is that they can push through a presentation or an important conversation without being interrupted by wayward thoughts about the things that they are seeing and interpreting. Those who may see an unintentional frown or a look of boredom may choose to change the message mid-stream and that change may or may not make the message stronger. It may, in fact, derail the message.

The author called it emotional eavesdropping, and it’s both a blessing and a curse.

My Myers-Briggs profile is said to be the rarest one. It shows me to be highly intuitive, and I always thought that my ability to pick up on these types of clues gave me a head start. For someone like me, I love the blessing of this gift, coupled with a high dose of empathy. I can sense things that, when I tell people what I’m feeling, they often think I’m making things up; most times, my feeling is found to be quite accurate later. Sometimes, I may ask someone what’s bothering them before they realize something is bothering them themselves! People don’t necessarily want to share things before they’re ready. Now that I’m reading this book, my gift may also be even more of a curse than I was aware. Because I am good at this emotional eavesdropping, I can get distracted by what I’m picking up and my brain may stop mid-sentence while I debate the best way to respond; then, I can end up stuttering.

I always liked written communication better because I have time to edit my thoughts. But now that I may know a reason why my verbal communication is not as powerful as my written word, I am going to start paying attention to those wayward thoughts I’m having as I’m trying to speak. Knowledge is power!

DAY 53 HOMEWORK: Homework for today is two-fold. For those who are good at emotional eavesdropping, pay attention to how it affects your speech patterns. If it’s distracting, work on shutting some of that overactive skill off to improve your speaking. If you’re not good at picking up nonverbals, then your homework is to start paying better attention. It may help you to close a deal or switch tactics if you can tell who your key players are and what they’re feeling.