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I was recently in the middle of a very important business call. The person I was speaking with is what I would call a fairly important person – to say the least. We were there on the phone together, chatting; discussing various subject matter when he, all of the sudden, he put emphasis on the word ‘boring’.

It immediately caught me ear. He was sending me a signal. He wasn’t quite entertained enough with my side of the conversation. Or maybe he wasn’t quite entertained enough with my tone of voice. After all, I have this weird tendency to default into a flat, aloof, and monotone voice when in the middle of discussion with virtually anyone. It’s not necessarily that I default into this tone of voice on purpose, it is just that I like to default into this tone in a conscious effort to conserve energy.

I’m serious, I’ve consciously decided to almost put myself to sleep when in the middle of conversation with anyone. It’s so easy and it works. Sometimes I almost catch myself nodding off all the while restoring energy while remaining engaged in the conversation.

I need to be honest with myself too though. I default into this tone because I’m actually an incredibly animated and outgoing person when I talk. It is just that I have found that more social success comes my way as I default into a lifeless conversationalist mode (i.e. – I listen more, I allow myself to be cut off, and you’d have to check my pulse to see if I was alive when I speak). But lately I’ve been feeling my blood pressure rise when others talk too much. The social/interactive balance is all out of whack and some of the chatterboxes need to allow more room for others to speak or big problems might be on the way.  

But this kind of analysis can become overly complex and unneeded. We chat back and forth, each of us has something to say and more often than not we become extremely bored with one another. It’s not a complex equation – we talk, we cover ground, we listen to how one another presents their respective self, we try to change the other person to be more like us, and if he or she does not we quickly become bored and/or irritated. Interactively speaking, human beings are not complex creatures – we’re pathetically simple and we will do almost anything to yield the result we want for our (selves).

Back to the main point, he put emphasis on the word ‘boring’. He wasn’t stimulated enough. Perhaps he needed some juicy gossip. Maybe he wanted me to say something reckless. Maybe he just wanted me to laugh hysterically and shout my guts out on the phone. He wanted anything but my calmness and evenness on the phone.

The main point though? He was being very funny and animated on the phone. He made me laugh pretty hard on several occasion. Therefore, I wasn’t being funny enough and he wanted to see if I could produce a good belly laugh for him.

And maybe all of this talk is pointless and it’s all inside of my own insane head. But lately I’ve been doing that – not being overly animated, not giving people the satisfaction to create a bit of (sus)pense.

 And maybe, just maybe, I want to breathe a breath of fire a mile upward into the sky until my eyeballs pop out of my head and roll around on the ground.

It was a productive and good business call though. If I could say anything about his skill as a human developer it is that he has a rare and unique ability to refine the individual. In other words, he always knows what is missing and helps you see how to add it.

I’m groggy and my neurons are sputtering.

Coffee anyone?

Matthew Polkinghorne

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