By Catherine Welborn
Jaimy’s recent post about teleconference problems reminded me of my own conference call bad habit: I’m an active listener.
Now normally, I’m quite happy with my active listening skills. I make eye contact with speakers, smile, nod and say things like “Yeah, good idea” or “OK, I see what you mean.” Active listening has always been an asset.
It was until I started having regular conference calls, anyway. Then it became an annoying—and occasionally embarrassing—habit. The problem occurs when I affirm the speaker vocally. In a meeting room, a nod and quick “Right!” helps the speaker, but on a conference call, it can derail the conversation. Since the speaker and other listeners can’t see my expression, my interjection is out of context, and since all sound is coming from one direction—out of the headpiece—it’s not always even clear who’s spoken.
Inevitably, the speaker has to pause mid-thought to ask “What was that?” And I respond sheepishly “Uh, nothing. I just said ‘Right.’ Sorry about that.” Momentum is lost, and I feel like a nuisance.
I’m working on keeping my lips sealed when I’m on the listening end of a teleconference, but it takes a while to break those bad—er, good—habits!
What communication habits do you have that work well in some situations but not in others?