Listening versus Waiting To Talk

Have you ever been talking with someone, regaling a story, and when you finish they immediately respond with a story of their own?  One that somehow makes your story insignificant?  Have you ever told someone something to which they respond that they disagree, but the reasons they give are completely out of line with everything you just said?

I have.  When it happens, I try to notice, because most people who do this become obvious in their patterns.  They are not really listening to you, they are waiting for their turn to talk.

The Internet is full of people with this problem, especially when it comes to game design.  Take this thread for example.  Where I linked to should be a post of someone saying that the upcoming Star Trek Online game should avoid being a DIKU clone like so many other games.  He goes into a pretty elaborate tale of how things might work.  The second reply following him is a post saying his idea would fail as a DIKU.

Ummm… duh?  And the guy even quoted the entire original post, including the parts where the original poster said explicitly that it wasn’t a DIKU idea.

This is the sort of thing that makes conversation hard on the Internet.  Some people know what they want to say, they are just waiting for an opportunity to say it.  They don’t join a conversation so much as they look for an opening (no matter how ill fitting) and step in to criticize and spew their opinion.  I mean, if a few people are talking about how to make great soups, what is the point of walking in and stating that, while their soups might be okay for people who like soup, a steak would be a better meal.  It was a thread by people who like soup about soup… what the hell does steak have to do with it?

Sometimes people need to realize that if you can’t contribute to the topic at hand, then perhaps the best course of action is just to listen instead of trying to turn the conversation to something you’d rather talk about.  It really makes message boards less enjoyable, especially when the same person keeps trying to hammer his point of view into thread where they don’t belong.  If no one is talking about what you want to talk about… start a new thread, or at least propose that the thread steer another direction, don’t go hijacking.

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