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Esedess's avatar

What skill(s) am I missing that hinder my giving more meaninful responses verbally?

Asked by Esedess (3464points) July 25th, 2014

Basically I feel stupid. Sometimes I just find myself unable to process a conversation and respond with anything but empty words. It’s like I’m talking without truly saying anything. To my frustration, I recognize the matter immediately, but upon realizing the fact, my mind seems to withdraw still further. On that, I sometimes introvert entirely and go off to think a steady calming nothingness.

Some people I know spout off meaningful articulate dialog without falter. It often leaves me feeling like they’re fully present and thinking quickly, while I’m off elsewhere thinking slow as a rock.. In those moments, my responses merely serve as a voice to perpetuate, instead of contributing to, or driving the conversation.

Maybe the truth is that I’m just plain not quick enough (aka a big ‘ol dummy), in which case there’s not much I can do about it. Since that’s a rather unproductive approach, let’s just pretend I’m smart enough… What/how should I practice overcoming such a deficiency?

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12 Answers

hominid's avatar

We all process information in different ways and at a different pace. It’s quite possible that you require more time and contemplation in order to determine what you feel about a particular topic. I don’t see that there is anything wrong with that. Slow, intentional, thoughtful analysis may not work in a social setting – or a popular thread here on fluther. But your response, when it does come, should still be expressed. Fast responses could likely just mean that people are parroting what they have heard or what they themselves have believed for a long time. It doesn’t mean that it’s the most insightful.

Some people also let anxiety get in the way. This anxious self-talk is so loud that your internal dialog becomes a shouting match, and it’s nearly impossible to come up with thoughts at a reasonable speed.

Are you genuinely interested in the topics that are being discussed? If so, then I’d imagine that you either have interesting things or interesting questions to add to the discussion. I find that I can’t keep up with conversations in social settings that are about topics I find inane.

dappled_leaves's avatar

By worrying that you’re not “quick enough”, you’re forcing yourself to contribute meaningless words. If you refrain from chiming in until you have something substantial to say, then you will feel less shallow, and build self-confidence. In other words, you don’t always have to be speaking to contribute to a conversation. Listening is important, too. If you listen instead of speaking, you will likely find that you have more to say. Fewer words, but more substance.

dabbler's avatar

Be patient with yourself. Slow your expression down enough that you have time to review what you’re thinking before it comes out. If you find yourself thinking “OMG! I totally can NOT say that!!” , then you can stop, comforted in your silence with the fact that it’s less awkward to say nothing than to attempt to unsay nothing.
So the patience comes in with being satisfied with the rate that your mind comes up with stuff to talk about, and when it doesn’t and you have nothing to say.

Also listening. Not only to people love talking with you when you are a good listener, paying close attention to a line of conversation can spark you to think about other stuff to say.

Coloma's avatar

As an extrovert I’m one of “those” extremely quick thinking/talking types and very articulate as well.
However, as always, every person has their challenges. I often feel I am leaving someone in the dust because they process and speak more slowly than I and trust me, having a super fast and witty mind is no picnic either at times.
Just relax and accept yourself as you are while working on some self improvement.

I have to consciously remind myself to NOT talk too much. haha

filmfann's avatar

You certainly write well, though you use a lot of flair and lace in your writing, rather than just saying what is on your mind. Is it possible this happens in your spoken word as well?

thorninmud's avatar

I’m a suuuuper sloooow processor. I too come off as a dullard in situations where the repartee is flying fast. I too retreat to that steady, calming nothingness. It’s not an intelligence thing. The fruit just hangs a little longer on the tree.

hearkat's avatar

In all honesty, I’ve found that interacting on sites like Fluther helped me process my thoughts and express myself better when speaking, as well as when writing. I also learned to be comfortable pausing before speaking, and then speaking at a slower pace to help my brain and my mouth work together more effectively (so I don’t wind up with my foot in my mouth!).

Esedess's avatar

Possibly… Sometimes I find myself at a loss because my words in thought mirror this tedious writing style; but I don’t speak like that. The dissonance may force a slight lull where translation from thought to verbally acceptable rhetoric is needed. I search for a more ordinary synonym to not come off pretentious, and end up stumbling between the two versions.

That’s not really what I’m talking about though… Delivery is a factor, sure… But mostly I’m concerned with content. It seems to be more an issue of hearing whats said, but quite literally not thinking about it deeply. Even if I poured out simple words, they just amount to fluff.

For example, in person, I might respond to your comment like this:
“I don’t really speak how I write. But yea… IDK.. That could be it.”

It’s simply acknowledging what I heard you say. Literally no return content..

Esedess's avatar

I can accept my current state while working on self-improvement like I have a choice. But ultimately I still need some guidance on how to improve in this department.

If you could classify the skill-set that allows you to articulate a meaningful response quickly, that might help.
Like… Do you think you draw on per-existing knowledge to respond so completely? Was it already there, and that’s why you can speak on it? Or is it more a skill for listening intently and being a good debater? Etc…

Esedess's avatar

You might have hit it on the head.. It could just be that I need to pursue processing information quicker. I’ve never put an ounce of effort into that practice.. Generally speaking, I do process a lot of things at very leisurely pace. It’s embarrassing to say, but I read and do math in my head pretty slowly. The correlation is definitely there. I’ve never particularly cared before, because it’s always been good enough for me in my own mind… But if the external result is this dullness in conversation, then perhaps it’s time for some mental calisthenics.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I have a problem with that too. Like, if I’m trying to tell a long story, I start tripping over my words and….I’m just no good. I’m great with one liners and comebacks and discussions but speecifiying? No way. I don’t consider myself stupid. I think it’s just a bit of a lack of confidence in myself in that situation.

Coloma's avatar

@Esedess Well, I’m a fan of personalty theory so I think the first item is the introvert/extrovert split. Extroverts tend to be more at ease in social situations and less intimidated by others and we are naturally gregarious with no effort involved.
It is also a brain issue, how quickly one absorbs and assimilates input/data and also there is an an intellectual component as well. A knowledge seeking personality type is naturally going to be able to draw off stored information and lots of it and be able to converse with ease on any number of topics. It then just depends how fast your brain processes incoming data. haha

A fast brained, quick minded extrovert is going to naturally tend towards dominance not because they are arrogant or poor listeners but because they just very naturally are able to shift gears and switch topics with ease.

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