What I’m about to tell you isn’t unique to advisors. When you are talking, whether in a business or social context, these observations apply.
What they’re not thinking
All of us believe what we are saying is interesting to our conversational partner(s). If you could peer into their mind, it’s very unlikely they’re thinking:
I find this really interesting.
I wish he or she would elaborate and provide more details.
The longer this goes on, the better I feel.
What they are thinking
Psychologist Judith E. Glaser believes those listening to conversations tend to feel cut off, invisible, unimportant, minimized, or rejected, which releases the same neurochemicals as physical pain.
If she’s right, these listeners are probably thinking:
When will this end so I can speak about something that interests me?
I hope it’s not obvious that my mind has completely wandered and I’m paying absolutely no attention to what’s being said.
This is painful.
Depending on whether they agree or disagree with what’s being said, the listener might also be preparing to argue with you, hide behind the views of others, disengage or appease you.
You’re not making an impact
If your goal is to persuade or make a series of points by talking, you’re probably failing. As Glaser notes, the brain disconnects every 12-18 seconds to process what’s being said. During that time, the listener’s attention is diverted.
Even if the listener is focused, the amount of information you’re conveying is probably too much to be stored in short-term memory, so it isn’t retained. There’s evidence our short-term memory can only hold 7 [or fewer] items for a very short period of time, like 10 to 15 seconds.
If you want to communicate effectively, stop talking. Stop trying to convey any information (other than in response to a specific question). Instead, ask thoughtful questions.
If you change your approach, here’s how others will perceive you:
Those are far better thoughts.
Resource of the week
This article explains how the human memory works.