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.
Ways to help so you both save face.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.