There are lots of subtle messages hidden in everyday conversations – even in seemingly light-hearted chit-chat!
Some of these are verbal.
Some, most even, are non verbal and these can be powerful.
They can dismiss the value of your contribution. They can undermine your standing in the relationship – and even undermine your confidence and self esteem. And, because they are usually non-verbal, they are difficult to challenge or to confront – which can make them powerful.
The ‘Not interested’ treatment conditions us
Elaine is a hairdresser and can often work with, and chat with, a dozen or more people in a day.
She has got a wonderful ability to notice traits and patterns in behaviour. So, whenever we meet, we share people-watching observations.
Last week we got chatting about people who switch off when you do the talking…
- They’re ones who ‘talk at you’ rather than ‘talk with you’
- The ones who are very animated when they are doing the talking – about things that they are interested in – whether or not you are interested in these things.
How they condition us
We exchanged thoughts on how these people like to monologue.
And how they discourage your contributions – especially if these do not have a direct link with their interests, their life, their relations, their job, etc.
It’s as if they have an off-switch which they use to flip off their ‘engagement button’.
One moment they’re alive and animated as they go on and on about their current interest.
And if you dare to talk about what you’re interested in
But, if you dare to digress from their chosen topics they suddenly change.
They break eye contact, the face becomes inanimate, the voice changes to a flat monotone, and, instead of non-verbal encouragement to continue talking, you get, at best, a distracted ‘yeah….yeah..’ or ‘Uh, huh’.
You’re all alone
Suddenly you’re all alone. You’re getting the Not Interested! treatment.
But if you capitulate and return to their subject you will again be able to bathe in the sunlight of their eye contact, smile, animation, and engagement.
And, sadly, very effective – unless you’re alert to it.