Friday, July 31, 2009

The Adventures of the Pseudo-Listening Manager

Meet Stanley Partial (a fictional character), a manager at a marketing firm. He has been working at the firm for 5 years and has been a manager for 2; he supervises a staff of 3 marketing assistants. Clients, co-workers, and his employees have complained that Stanley is not a good communicator and talking to him is like talking to the wall. People find it difficult to converse with Stanley on a casual and professional level.

Communication Case #1: The Conference of Comparing

Stanley was sent to a conference in order to learn new strategic marketing techniques. He was sitting next to another marketing manager from a different firm who was just promoted to manager. At the break the marketing manager tried to make small talk by discussing his credentials and experience in the industry. Although Stanley didn't talk about his own credentials and experience, he kept thinking about how much smarter and more experienced he was than this man. He wondered how this person could have been promoted so soon and thought that the firm might be a start-up and probably won't last long in the business. When the man asked about Stanley's experience, he couldn't answer because he was so caught up in his own thoughts.


Stanley was experiencing a block to listening called 'comparing.' He was mentally comparing his experience and qualifications to the marketing manager. This enabled Stanley to effectively communicate to the manager from the other firm. After having a 10 minute conversation with Stanley, the manager may have gotten some misconceptions about Stanley. He may think he is not smart, sociable, or rude. The moral of the lesson is communication is a two way street. If Stanley had responded appropriately to the manager he could have possibly had an opportunity to be a mentor or gain a valuable colleague as the result of effective networking.

Comparing definition taken from the book Messages- the Communication Skills Book by Dr. Matthew McKay.

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