Interacting with people ain’t easy. Lets imagine a scenario where a lot of people come together and they are talking about something. Lets call this scenario a meeting. I have a problem in those scenarios. Silences make me uncomfortable. Really really uncomfortable. Especially earlier in my life I would end up trying to fill every nook and cranny of silence. This creates a big problem. In fact, it’s so big that can hinder your personal and professional development.

The problem with being hyper active in a conversation is that you end up dominating it. That’s rarely a good thing. What it does is that it derails the conversation, you create a lot of noise and in the end you lose every bit of credit. You end up a bit like the boy that cried wolf. Instead a much more useful skill is listening, truly listening to what the other person has to say. Listening and try to understand their point of view, not listening in order to come back with something smart or snarky. This right there is the ultimate skill, one that I am constantly working on.

People walking

When you manage to move yourself from a position of talking to a position of truly listening you are essentially shifting from a potential dominator to a potential facilitator. A facilitator is an invaluable human being in every social interaction. They are the catalyst that can bring different people together and can help achieve something beautiful. Facilitators are sought after everywhere, from talk shows to conferences all the way to businesses and critical conversations among your friends.

Personally I am still figuring out how to get there, it’s a journey of transforming yourself first. Imagine a football referee suddenly grabbing the ball and shooting the penalty instead of the player. That’s what it’s like dominating a conversation all the time. I won’t pretend that I know what a good facilitator has but the skills I’m working on are:

  • Get prepared for any kind of conversation, no matter how loaded.
  • Try to know the people in the group.
  • Create an inclusive environment.
  • Set a clear agenda and moderate who has the floor and for how long.
  • Last, but not least, knowing yourself better and controlling it.

Be the referee, not the star of the game. By being a facilitator eventually will land you to a position where you can be an invaluable member of a team. Or so I’ve observed so far from other people a lot better than me.