THE FAST-TWITCH RESPONDER
Some people tend to think their thoughts out loud for everyone to hear – often in a very blunt fashion – then they do the editing in public, too. “Here’s what I really mean” or “Let me rephrase that.” They might revise their initial version of the facts several times. Typically, they quickly offer the information you’re seeking so it may seem as though very little patience is required on your part. They don’t make you wait very long, yet immediately jumping in with your assumptions drawn and conclusions blazing will most often prove to be a mistake. This conversation is a work-in-progress for this quick responder, and it’s far more prudent for you to deliver a well-timed, “Tell me more” or an “…and then what?” The additional information you receive next will be worth the wait, as feelings and thoughts become clearer in the mind of this fast-twitch responder.
THE SLOW-TWITCH RESPONDER
Other people tend to process everything internally, preferring not to share the end result until it is edited and refined to a finished product. These people never share a verbal “rough draft.” The new stimuli they receive in conversations enter a processing chamber where it is kept, considered and condensed into manageable material. This takes time and requires patience by those who eagerly await an explanation or a report about what’s going on. Impatience at this point will cause the listener to jump straight into “tell” mode, as in, “Let me tell you what I think.” The lecture the listener delivers is usually not appreciated nor helpful. On the other hand, patience combined with thoughtful silence will usually produce a concise account of true feelings and ideas from a slow-twitch responder.
To gain credibility, learn to give space and time to others before making your verbal contribution. Give the gift of silence and let people consider their actions and their words. Use phrases like: “Tell me more.” “What else?” “What then?” “How so?” “What did that mean to you?” “How are you feeling now?” These phrases will prompt more information, which will give you a detailed understanding of people and situations. Not only will this build trust, but it will also keep you from making incorrect assumptions about people and events.
Find an opportunity to use the phrase, “Tell me more.” Resist the temptation to respond with your own thoughts until you allow them to tell you what’s on their minds. The only assumption worth having is one when you expect there’s more to the story, not one when you think you have all the answers. Nine times out of ten, your best guess about the truth will never be as rich as the story you need to hear.