One Potential Conversation Spoiler

I hate it when I do what gets under my thin skin.

Case in point. A customer came in to see me and was asking me a question about a particular product. She said something like, “I’d like to know what the price is of your…..” This is where she stumbled. The word wasn’t coming out. She knew what she wanted to say. I could see it on the tip of her tongue. I so badly wanted to help her, but I also wanted her to get it.

I couldn’t wait. Two seconds were long enough. I had to help her out. “Frames?” I blurted.

“Yes, frames,” she said. I couldn’t tell if she appreciated my help or not.

I don’t know why I’m aware of this phenomenon, but I see it all the time. We jump in to finish peoples sentences, whether or not they are stumbling to find the right word. A lot of the time it just looks like we’re cutting them off or interrupting them in mid-sentence. It comes across as rude. Other times the person is embarrassed that they couldn’t come up with the word, especially if it is as simple as ‘frame’.

My wife hates it when I ‘help’ her. It interrupts her train of thought. If the word I think she wants is wrong, it throws her off and she loses her message. I believe that happens with many others, including me.

24853299220_4d4c18bd56        Photo Credit: domit via Compfight cc

Ways to help so you both save face.
  1. Be quiet.  Let them collect their thoughts. If you don’t allow that, the whole conversation may be disjointed, just because their mind hasn’t caught up with their mouth. Silence is okay.
  2. Listen. Are they a native speaker? If they are not, it doesn’t mean they want your help. Some want to practice their new language and figure it out on their own. If they are, see 1.
  3. Watch. Be wise. There are times when it is valid to lend a hand. The danger is if you guess the wrong word, you may make things worse. I’ve seen someone guess wrong, and keep guessing wrong until everyone is frustrated. If you guess wrong the first time, see 1.

The conversation usually looks like everything is okay. It may even sound that way. Some people do not want to let on that they are frustrated or upset.

Proverbs 17:28 Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.

Something to think about.


4 thoughts on “One Potential Conversation Spoiler

  1. These are great tips. I never thought about it this way! You think people want help but it may just make them feel even more dumb for needing the help to think of such an easy word. When in doubt, keep silent. Words to live by.

  2. I have recently started to do this to people, finish their sentences when they are struggling to get a word out. I’m trying to catch and stop my self because I used to be someone who struggled with studering as a child. As a child I hated when people would finish my sentence. I knew what I wanted to say but it just took longer for me to say it, even saying “the” was a challenge. Best advice I can say is be patient with people. Sometimes someone may be just having a brain fart or they could just have a speech impedament, be patient and they will appreciate it more then you may realize.

    Great topic Vuyo!!

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