As a human beanpole, I have become accustomed to people stating the obvious. “Wow, you’re tall” is something I hear on the daily.
But it’s not just limited to height comments. We all like to make comments or observations that, when looked at from the bird’s eye view, are just obvious statements.
Here’s some of my ‘favourite’:
- “You got a haircut!”
- “Ohh, you’re sunburnt.”
- “You have lots of freckles”
- “It’s Monday” (mumbled drearily)
- “It’s hump day” (uttered not-so-drearily with emphasis on the “hump”)
- “It’s Friday” (bellowed wildly)
- “It’s so cold”
- “It’s so hot”
- “It’s raining”
- “You’re quite pale”
- “You have blue eyes”
- “Those shoes are so bright”
- “Christmas is coming”
- “Winter is coming” (Yep, I’ll even call out GoT… I’m THAT edgy)
- “>Insert all sports commentary ever<”
These statements usually don’t come across as compliments or random acts of kindness (although they may be intended that way) but rather, as obvious observations. They’re conversation killers that leave the other person with nowhere to go.
Person 1: “You got a haircut!”
Person 2: “Err…. Yes, yes I did.”
*both look at the ground awkwardly before shuffling off*
So what’s this all about? I think it boils down to our relationship with silence.
Silence creates tension. Tension creates discomfort. Most people can’t stand discomfort.
We’d rather talk for the sake of filling the silence and making ourselves more comfortable, than not say anything at all. However, when used effectively, silence is a ninja skill that can help drive change and improve our relationships. By deliberately using silence, we can create a space for other people to start talking. We’ll hear things we may not have known, give others the opportunity to solve problems and allow them to be heard (and we all know ladies like to be heard, amirite guys?).
So next time fair skinned Jimmy comes into work resembling a swollen peach, resist the temptation to say “Jimmy, you’re sunburnt” before asking for his help. Instead, ask him for his thoughts on your proposal/spreadsheet/presentation then sit back and shut up.
It’ll be more rewarding for both of you. Especially Jimmy and his aloe vera soaked sunburn.