Monday, August 29, 2011

Going into 'Facebook Stealth Mode'

I haven't posted a Facebook status update since August 5. That's a whoppin' 24 days, an eternity in the land of Facebook. Sure, I've posted a few cartoons and commented on others' post during that time, but other than that, I've been in "Stealth Mode."

I've decided to do more listening than proclaiming.

People don't listen well. They can talk your ear off with no problem, but when it comes to listening -- truly listening -- they haven't got a clue.

SHE: Did I tell you about the time I wrecked my car?
HE: Yes you did.
SHE: It was the most awful experience I've ever had, let me tell you about it.

Truly listening begins when you are honestly interested (or at least pretend to be interested) in what the other person is saying. You show that interest by eye contact, nodding at appropriate times, and saying things like, "Oh really?", and "I know, I know," and "How awful for you."

And then you ask questions:

HE: I don't know if I'll be able to pull that engine today. I broke my leg.
CO-WORKER: How did you do that?
HE: Ice Skating.
CO-WORKER: In the summer? Where?
HE: Mall.

Questions lead to more questions. Answers spur the conversation forward, and in the end it's all about the other person -- and not you trying to "one up" the other.

HE: I don't know if I'll be able to pull that engine today. I broke my leg.
CO-WORKER: I broke my leg once. Back in high school. I had a car wreck.
HE: Uh, I broke it this weekend when I went ice skating at the mall with my kids.
CO-WORKER: My best friend Chuck broke his arm last year ice skating. Cost him big time.
HE: Do you think you can pull that engine for me today?
CO-WORKER: That's why I never go ice skating. I just know I'll fall and break my butt.

I once heard two people talk at each other for 15 minutes and neither one really heard what the other was saying. It was so exhausting to hear two stories going on at the same time that I almost screamed and ran away:

HE: We went fishing this weekend.
SHE: I used to fish when I was a kid, too.
HE: We caught eight trout.
SHE: My Dad would take us deep sea fishing off the coast.
HE: Sometimes we fish in the river, and sometimes on a lake.
SHE: We'd always fish off a big boat that we rented and fished for marlin.
HE: We're going back next weekend.
SHE: One time I got seasick and puked over the rail, but only once.

For me, Facebook (and Twitter even more so) reinforces those non-conversational conversation skills which make us poor conversationalist out in the "real" world.

ME: So, how was your summer?
HE: You need to look at my Facebook. OMG we rocked.
ME: So, I guess you went somewhere?
HE: You mean you haven't seen all my posts? You ARE my friend, aren't you?
ME: Oh sure, but I guess I missed it. So where'd you go.
HE: Just go back and check my profile, you'll find everything thing. We had a blast.
ME: Yeah, sure. As soon as I get home. I can't wait.

I used to do Facebook stuff quite regularly, but I've decided to give it a rest for awhile. Maybe I'll jump back on when I have something to say. Or maybe I won't. Only time will tell.

"Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering." -- Winnie the Pooh

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