Do you listen or talk when you are on a call or in a meeting?

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The smartest man in the room syndrome.

Recently I’ve sat on a few conference calls where the speaker started talking about a topic and people interrupted with those own thoughts. There is nothing wrong with asking a question. There is nothing wrong with clarifying a point made. But when your set of questions derails what the speaker was trying to present, you’ve violated a rule of conduct.  I call that the smartest man in the room syndrome. It has to do with an inability to have “empathy” for anyone else in the room.  If you don’t feel like they are worthy of speaking its ok to derail the conversation, you after all, know what is best.

It seems sad to be in a world where communication is so much easier than it ever has been before. When I lived in Thailand as a child we spoke to my grandparents twice via phone the entire time, most of the time recording tapes and sending them back and forth. Communication was such a pleasure (I loved my grandparents very much). Now you can speak 1/2 across the world anytime you want. Using voip you can even talk to someone in Thailand for free. The change has been incredible and yet the problems of and with communication have continued to grow. In my book “transitional services” I talk about some communication anti-patterns and frankly this is one. The concept of, I am the smartest man in the room therefore I should be the only one speaking.

Not sure what anyone can do about this problem, simply pointing it out for all to see. I guess as a reformed “smartest man in the room” I probably notice it more than other people do.  It really seems to bother me…



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