Everyone has someone in life you wish would communicate more often. It is hard to understand why in this age of communication that so many people remain disconnected. I used to get frustrated by this, but I think I understand more now. Here’s a list I came up with that guides my list-producing mind:
1. The Procrastinator: You say you will get back to a caller, eventually. You put it on your list of things to do, and it gets lost. You really mean to return the call, just not right this moment. You just don’t have the time to risk; what if the other party needs to talk over the “imaginary” allotted time?
2. The Self: This person sounds like the Procrastinator, but at the heart of the issue is an internal dialogue. It goes something like this: “I honestly don’t care, unless they are in the hospital or dead.” One who is a little more merciful might say, “I just can’t call them; it has been so long, and I genuinely don’t care” or “I don’t want them to know my true feelings, so I will continue to avoid them.” The list goes on and on.
3. The Shallow One: Your conversations (when you choose to communicate) are simple one-word responses such as “Good … yes … cloudy… 78 degrees… nope… goodbye.” You rob the world of your true feelings by hiding behind the mask.
4. The Restaurant Manager: Your communication mimics something of a big chain-restaurant manager. You say things such as, “Just checking in” and ” Hey, buddy!” You say a lot of things that put up the appearance that you care; but really, you don’t. You are pretty much communicating for damage control. If everything is good, you would just as soon not communicate.
5. The Drama Queen: You only communicate when there is some hot gossip or depressing news. You thrive on communication of this sort; it really makes you feel the thrill of talking. Other times, you struggle to mention anything remotely positive, because it feels cheesy and fake.
6. The TV Preacher: Every time anyone says something sad to you, you reply with, “It will all work out in the end” or “There are plenty of fish in the sea” or “I know what will help: go help someone who is worse off; you will feel better.”
7. The Listener: You constantly listen so much that when most people have a conversation with you, they feel better. This often has to do with the fact that you are able to keep your mouth closed and your eyes attentive. Although many listeners are genuine, some are listening because they don’t have much to say and don’t end up sharing anything about themselves. They are very close in spirit to the Shallow One or the The Closer.
8. The Closer: You are constantly thinking about how to quickly end the conversation. You might have enjoyed an excellent career in customer service. You make people feel like you are rushing through.
9. The One-Track Reel: You listen for a break in conversation. As soon as an opening appears, you begin to drone on about your favorite topic. You think to yourself, “I listened to them, now this is payback.” You continue to talk about one topic the other person has no interest in, but in some way you have your vengeance. Shame on you. Share the conversation.
10. The Name Dropper: Your inherent goal in any conversation is to drop the name of any famous person you have come into contact with. You are not sure how you started this habit, but somehow almost every time you talk with new acquaintances, you bring up the chance meeting you had with some NBA star, the owner of a major corporation or “people who matter” in your opinion. You make people feel as though you are trying too hard.
If you have read this far, you must be thinking about your communication. Today, make a call, write an e-mail, message on Facebook, send a tweet and show someone you are thinking about them—for real.
Chad Miller is all of these, plus a few more he may add later, if he gets around to it (see #1).