by Haley Cahill-Teubert
I read an article recently that dove into some unique universal habits in conversations. There was one in particular that caught my attention… the pattern of flipping the “right” to speak back and forth, with each turn lasting approximately two seconds (you read that correct… two seconds!) and the gap between those turns being a mere 200 miliseconds.
Perhaps the most insightful part of the entire article, though, were these sentences:
“Instead, they uncovered what Levinson describes as a ‘basic metabolism of human social life’ — a universal tendency to minimize the silence between turns, without overlaps. This means that we have to start planning our responses in the middle of a partner’s turn, using everything from grammatical cues to changes in pitch. We continuously predict what the rest of a sentence will contain, while similarly building our hypothetical rejoinder, all using largely overlapping neural circuits.”
Did you catch that?
We have to start planning our responses in the middle of a partner’s turn.
We do this all the time in recruitment. We ask what we think is a great question, but about 10 seconds into the response (at the most!), we mentally check out and begin thinking of a new question. Or, we do in fact hear something that resonates with us and we wait for a pause in the conversation to talk about ourselves.
The article even says that, too. “The only reason why we ask other people how their weekend was is so we can tell them about our own weekend.”
We listen to reply. We listen to talk about ourselves. We listen to fire another question at them.
This simply won’t work in a recruitment setting… or anywhere in life, really.
When we mentally check out of a conversation because we’re busy thinking of a response, we miss the nuggets. When we are afraid of pauses in conversation and jump in with a question before the PNM can complete her thoughts, we don’t just miss the nuggets–we don’t even give them a chance to happen.
The nuggets (gold nuggets, chicken nuggets–whatever you want to visualize here) serve as the bridge we need to take our conversations from surface level to seriously personal and memorable. These nuggets are so important. They are a little nugget of the PNM’s life, they’re offering them to you to take and dive into. Each nugget is full of potential that can lead to true connection.
But we miss the nuggets.
And here’s what happens when we miss the nuggets: We extend bids to members we don’t actually know anything meaningful about. On the flip side, we refrain from extending bids to potential new members who actually belong in our organizations, but we missed the opportunity to genuinely know them because we missed the nuggets.
Imagine the possibilities of improving our ability to grasp the nuggets in conversations. More leaders. Higher retention. Better sisterhood. Good chapter morale. You get the idea.
We’ve got to ask good questions in recruitment — we know this. But we’ve got to be good listeners too. Not just to hear and respond, but to hear and search for nuggets that we can grasp onto!
Approach conversations with the understanding that every single word a PNM shares is important and necessary in our quest to recruit members for a lifetime. Listen not to reply, but to understand, to learn and to make the PNM feel valued. Listen because recruitment is about a PNM, not about us. Listen for the things we want in a sister. Listen for the things we want in a friend. Listen for the things we need in our chapters. Listen for the nuggets.