Saturday, August 23, 2014 13:21

The Quiet One

“You’ve got nothing to hear
I’ve got nothing to say…” The Who

Folks who have hung out with me for any period of time know that I’m not the most verbal person around. I’m quite comfortable with saying very little in a group setting and when I do speak, I’m very succinct as if I were being charged for each word used. It’s not that I’m against conversation…I’m just wired to listen much more than talk. And, while I’m totally comfortable working a networking event and chatting with total strangers, doing so tires me out just as much (if not more so) than the most vigorous workout that I might ever do at the gym.

In general, I don’t like hanging out with overly chatty people. I should appreciate them…since the more someone else talks, the less I’m forced to say…but eventually, mindless chatter gets really annoying really fast and I start spacing out.

In a business context, chattiness is especially troublesome; because time better spent listening to useless drivel can be used for doing productive work. And, when I get caught up in mindless chatter in the guise of a business conversation, I get pretty irate.

I had made arrangement to talk to a woman about a search marketing gig and the first red flag (I suppose) was that she requested to use Skype even though she lived in the US (as do I). I certainly didn’t have a problem with this but 15 minutes before I was supposed to connect with her on Skype, she called me on her cell phone prior to “Skyping”, which struck me as very strange, but I let this slide as well.

When we finally connected on Skype, she immediately asked for video chat (…no, this post isn’t heading down an “adult” path…). Now, springing video chat on someone working from home who isn’t expecting that is very bad form. I was dressed like I could have been headed to a Big Lebowski get-together and certainly, I would not want a prospect to see me thusly. I told her my webcam wasn’t connected (a white lie) and we began the conversation…

…well, she began the conversation. For almost a full hour, I heard the most unfocused conversation possible about her business that only tangentially touched on search marketing. I might have said a dozen sentences the entire time. I kept thinking she would get to the point of the call…but she never really did. It’s clear she knew search marketing was important to business but she was so far from grasping what needed to be done that I concluded quite quickly that I could never partner with her in any context under any circumstances.

Towards, the end of the conversation, my answers became shorter and shorter…and more direct…yet, she couldn’t grasp that I was trying to break off the conversation in a face-saving way. Finally, I told her I had another appointment (another white lie)…and even then, she still kept it going for another 10 minutes.

One hour and five minutes lost forever…I wanted to send her a bill…but even at my hourly rate, I wouldn’t have willingly subjected myself to that experience again.

Then, soon after, she emailed me again…and wanted another meeting.

I outsourced the lead to someone else.

High quality conversation can be magical…if you don’t believe that, watch “My Dinner With Andre”. A certain amount of perfunctory conversation is necessary both in professional & personal settings. However, I’d “Van Gogh” myself before ever working closely with “Chatty Kathy” people. Ultimately, their personal vanity and self-importance is more important than respecting your precious time.

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