Ignore the little voice in your head

In my last post, I talked about why some people are able to get “yeses” and some people aren’t. It’s not that the former are better looking, stronger, or more athletic. They’re just people that hear the concerns and desires of others louder than the voices in their own heads.

What Me WorryUnfortunately, too many people let their own worries overwhelm a conversation. They listen too much to the little voice in their own head, and not enough to the other person in the real conversation.

We all know that we are lacking in certain areas, that we have weaknesses and faults. That’s just the way we are, and we worry constantly about them. My wife will verify that I’m too impatient, and that I’m very bossy. I know this about myself, so when I enter a conversation, I can be worried that I’m going to be bossy or come across as impatient. In fact, I can spend so much energy trying not to be this way, and worrying about how it’s going, that I fail to really connect with the other person I’m talking to.

A friend of mine sometimes talks too much and he knows it. It’s a problem because being a good listener is an important part of getting yeses. But when he’s in a conversation with someone, he isn’t participating fully in the conversation. Even if he tries not to talk so much, he can still miss out on really listening, because he’s constantly worrying: Am I talking too much? I should give this person a little more time to talk. Oh my gosh, there’s a lull in the conversation. Is she thinking about her response, or is it my time to talk?

All of these kinds of worries get in the way of our ability to appreciate another person. While it’s admirable that we want to suppress our faults and weaknesses, we can end up with all our attention on ourselves, and not paying enough attention to the other person.

So here’s your assignment for correcting misplaced attention: For the next week or two, look out for that little voice in your head that worries about your faults and weaknesses. Just notice when you are paying attention to the little voice inside and not the other person. Every time you hear your own little voice, tell it “thanks,” stop worrying about yourself so much, and then turn your attention back to the person you are trying to understand! What might they be worried about?

If you make an effort to notice when you are paying attention to yourself and your own worries, you will quickly train your mind to relax about you, and start discovering other people’s true interests.

But that’s not the only trick for getting better at soliciting those “yeses.” Stay tuned for my next post. And be sure to leave a comment below and let me know what you think. When do you pay more attention to yourself than to the person with whom you are talking?

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