Have you ever noticed how some people have no idea how to merge in traffic? In theory, vehicles should speed up or slow down slightly to allow for everyone to enter the lane seamlessly. When it works right it’s a wonderful thing but that’s often not the case.
Conversations can be a little like that at times. Some people seem to have no idea how to enter a conversation. They cut you off or cause you to swerve out of their way. Sometimes there are even nasty collisions.
I had an interesting and somewhat frustrating experience recently. I was involved in a conversation with someone I’d only just met. We were both adding interesting elements to the discussion and feeding off one another with a variety of anecdotes. The person I was talking to was a fascinating older gentleman who I could have talked to for hours.
Suddenly another person wandered over to where we were standing and without waiting, introduced himself and then derailed the conversation. We were both happy to welcome the other guy to our conversation but he didn’t want to merge, he wanted to cut in and completely hijack the conversation. Instead of merging we were suddenly moving in a completely different direction and the discussion we were having was lost.
What are you like at merging?
Merging into a pre-existing conversation shouldn’t be all that difficult. First, ascertain whether the conversation is a private one or an open one. If you believe it’s an open conversation, acknowledge the others involved and then listen for a while. Listen to the tone and direction of the conversation. Develop an understanding of what’s being discussed then join in when appropriate. That doesn’t mean taking over with bigger and better stories but adding your thoughts, sparingly at first, to see whether those already talking are seeking your input.
Sometime soon I hope to catch up with that older guy again so that we can continue our conversation that was halted so abruptly.
Have you experienced people who don’t know how to merge into a conversation? What are you like at joining others in their discussions?If you enjoyed this post please use the buttons above to share.