You know I love it when you respond to what I write here. Whether it’s a post on my blog, an email or a comment on LinkedIn, it always tickles me when you let me know what you think.

The marketing gurus call that engagement and it’s all the rage. I just like hearing from you. Because it lets me know I’ve written something that touched you. And it gives me insight into what you’re thinking, what interests you and what you might want to know more about.

And, I enjoy learning from you.

Well, I got a treasure trove of reaction to what I wrote last week about my experience with a couple of men monologuing about themselves at a networking lunch.

You might remember my position: that relentless self-ing is not the way to grow your business.

I heard from some women – long-suffering listeners.

  • “As a woman in financial services and technology, all I can say is ditto!”
  • “This is so true in my office!”
  • “Right on target with my experience too!”
  • “Thank you for writing about a phenomenon every woman I know has experienced. I have begun to experiment for fun now, after listening to a coworker for two hours over a business dinner tell me everything about himself and NOT ASK ME ONE SINGLE QUESTION. It was incredible. We didn’t just talk about the deal we were pursuing, but literally where he grew up, his career path, how he met his wife, what she does, what she doesn’t do, his daughter’s upcoming wedding, his opinion of his soon-to-be son-in-law. Everything. About. Him.

In the last six months since my very one-sided dinner with my colleague, women almost always turn the conversation to me, but only 5 of the approximately 200 men I have talked to have even asked me one question about me. I am not making this up.”

  • “Even in meetings they seem to be like schoolboys in the back of the room. Next time I’m gonna say, ‘Do I need to separate you boys?’”

And there were replies from a few guys who get it:

  • “How can you say anything if you don’t ask a question first. If you said “Tell me about your business?” I should say ‘What would you like to know?’ My goal should be to tailor my conversation to your interests especially if I am angling for a potential sale or lead.” 
  • “LOVE this article, Catherine. Everyone who networks should read this one.” 
  • “Engaged listening is a undervalued talent in today’s world of business. It requires questions to be asked and then listen for the response.”

One response to my plea for more balanced conversations stood out. Because it was about something that happened at my event, Own the Room Live. Out of the 72 people in the room, my friend wound up in a coffee-break conversation with the wrong one. But her account is entertaining …

  • “I was regaled with details of his career, from his first words on mama’s lap to present day cusp-of-explosive fame. Every event in the intervening years appeared on his business card – a photo-filled and content-heavy folded/double card covered edge-to-edge with his exploits and experiences.

He didn’t come up for air as he elaborated on his presentations, where he’d spoken, WHO had hired him, and even the amazing impact of his business card (with some chortling about how most other speakers were too lacking in marketing savvy to employ such a powerful tool).

I tossed an underhand lob that I thought he might bat back at me – that I’m involved in organizations that are on the lookout for speakers – and he let it land in the dirt behind him. Nothing. But I do have his Rock Star business card as a souvenir of this surreal encounter!”

To be fair, men are by no means the only ones who can go on and on about themselves without ever expressing interest in you. I’ve been with plenty of women, too, who apparently missed out on that thing about how we have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

And I’ll admit, I’ve been known to get on a roll myself.

So this is a reminder for all of us. Communication – real communication – is always two-way. And it’s better for our business or our career if we don’t hog the conversational ball. We should be playing Catch, not Keep Away.

Get the ball rolling with a comment.