January is usually a time for meeting new prospects and making new contacts. The long holiday gives people the chance to socialise and interact with old and new friends and acquaintances. Most times, these “interactions” open the door for better jobs and business deals. But then, if things turn out wrong, the opportunities could be lost. This is why it is necessary that everyone learns communication skills, especially those needed for oral communications. In this case, turn-taking is a skill needed to impress participants in a communication event.
Turn-taking is a communication skill that enables participants in a communication event to take turns with sharing the roles of listeners and speakers. This skill is very important in conversations, whether it is face-to-face interactions or the ones done through other channels (e.g. telephone). Turn-taking allows a speaker to finish up whatever he/she is saying before assuming the role of a listener. On the same hand, the skill ensures that other participants in the communication had the chance to speak. Hence, mastering turn-taking ensures that you don’t interrupt other speakers and that you don’t dominate the conversation. As a result, you need to know when to start talking and when to stop.
One of the problems people encounter is detecting when the floor is free for them to speak. A number of times, people interrupt communications thinking speakers are done with whatever they have to say. This usually creates wrong impression about the interrupter even though the interruption wasn’t deliberate. Nevertheless, one way of knowing when to speak is by being a good listener and attentively following the flow of interaction. That way, it will be easier to notice when the speaker’s voice pitch drops to signal he’s about to end his speech. Other than this, the listener should wait for an invitation to speak.
How to Detect Lack of Turn-Taking Skills
Sometimes it is difficult to determine if you have actually acquired this very important skill. In case you are unsure of yourself, observe how people react when you talk to them. If they are doing any of the underlisted, know that you are dominating the conversation.
- Your speech is cut off. This happens when you talk too much. In this case, other participants in the communication may begin to interrupt you rudely. Some may go as far as telling you to give others a chance to talk. It is wise to avoid this embarrassing situation and so, you need to be on the lookout for other telltale signs.
- Listeners begin to yawn and fidget. If you notice your listeners are stifling yawns, falling asleep, exchanging looks, snickering, or fiddling with their phones, bags, keys, and other objects, it is a telltale sign they are becoming uncomfortable with your long talk. It is also a sign of boredom. Whenever you notice any of these, roundup your speech and give others a chance to talk.
- Listeners drop off the conversation. If people, especially those you want to impress, begin to excuse themselves, or just walk away, when you’re talking, it’s a bad sign – the conversation is getting one-sided and, maybe, boring.
- Topic of discussion is abruptly changed by listeners. This always feels rude whenever it happens but it is done to recover the stage stolen by the speaker. The problem here is the speaker is hardly given a chance to participate in the conversation again.
- Interruptions are stopped. As referred earlier, most times people don’t realise they are interrupting speakers until their attention is drawn to it. So, if you are told “Let me/him/her finish, please,” “Hold on, please,” “I am not done yet,” “Don’t interrupt me/him/her,” and many other such expressions, it is a sign you are interrupting the speaker and it is not welcomed.
Importance of Turn-Taking
Most at times people don’t understand the reason they should wait for their turn to speak or why they should not dominate conversations. Well, mastering this skill and applying it duly give the impression that you are respectful, cooperative, observant, humble, and organised. Not observing this simple communication skill could create a wrong impression about you, which will in turn deny you of several opportunities.