How to help others to stop ‘reloading’ in conversations

❇️ Performance

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Nick Mackeson-Smith
Nick Mackeson-Smith
Chief Curiosity Officer, Founder and Director
May 15, 2020

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and had the feeling that the other person isn’t actually listening to a word you are saying? They are patiently waiting for you to stop saying your piece, and then — BLAM! — they say their piece. This is much less of a conversation - let alone a kōrero - and much more like a game of tag.

You’re it!

It’s horrible.

What tends to be happening here is a phenomenon that’s commonly known as reloading.  Reloading is the act of thinking about what to say next in a conversation whilst the other person is still talking. The problem here is that if you are thinking about what you want to say next, then you surely can’t be focusing intently on what the other person is saying.  

Helping others to break the habit

All of the articles or blogs I’ve read on the subject have talked about why you shouldn’t reload because it’s bad. I’ve not yet found anything that gives guidance to leaders on how they can help their people to break out of the habit of reloading, so here’s a few coaching questions that will get you there! It’s worth saying at this stage that I am a fan of radical candor, and that caring personally and challenging directly is absolutely the best way you can help in this kind of situation. The questions may appear pointy, but they are pointy with love and care and always with the intention of helping the other person.  

“Are you listening, or are you just preparing to speak?”

My favourite and most used anti-reload question is finishing your sentence and then asking “what did you hear when you were listening to me just now, or were you just preparing to speak?”. This usually helps the other person realise pretty quickly that they weren’t actually listening…. and calls them on this behaviour in a kind way at the same time.

If that doesn’t work, then try these

  • What else do you think you could have taken from this conversation had you listened to everything I had said?
  • Where was your focus when I was just talking?
  • If you were able to eliminate the monologue in your mind whilst others were talking, what would they see?
  • Are you listening, or are you just preparing to speak?
  • What did you miss from what I said when you were preparing your response just now?

If they still don’t get it, then it’s worth a conversation about what reloading is, and then establish an expectation that if you experience them doing it you will flag it with them to help them break the cycle. After this, a simple “you seem to be reloading” usually does it!

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

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May 15, 2020
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