Are You A Fake Talker? (Part 2) Seven More Tactics That Don't Get Results

Nothing can be more frustrating than trying to talk to someone who engages in some form of fake talk. Because there are so many opportunities to talk about what matters most both at home and at work, learning to recognize the communication strategies that don’t yield the desired results is critical to improving the quality of your conversations. Doing so not only improves your results but also creates respect and builds the quality of your relationships.

Hopefully this past week you began to notice some of the communication behaviors and strategies that others may use that keep conversations from being successful.  More importantly I hope you are also beginning to notice your own communication strategies that may not produce the desired results.

Listed below are eight more communication behaviors or fake talk tactics that usually hinder the effectiveness of your conversations.

8. The Sniper uses humor or sarcasm to show disagreement or to make a point. They often say things like, “Right! Like you expect that to work?” Or, “Are you kidding me? How did you ever come up with that?”

Results: No one likes to be the brunt of another person’s attacks, sarcasm, or humor. If someone uses this strategy repeatedly, the offended party will stop talking. Additionally such behavior often shuts down others because of the fear of being the target of this person’s thinly veiled comments. The problem with this sort of approach is that the person on the receiving end is left wondering what was meant. Some people tend to take others literally and don’t understand sarcasm; others may take what was said as a personal attack. The person who uses this conversation tactic tends to confuse others because they send a mixed message. Their words say one thing while their derisive tone connotes something else.  

What to Do: Ask questions. Ask for facts and examples to illustrate what the person is stating. Ask for the information that supports the difference in their perspective. In everything you do with this type of communicator, get specific so you know exactly what they are saying. Don’t let their snide remarks derail the conversation.   

9. The Amateur Psychologist has some type of psychological explanation for their communication or personal dysfunction. Once when I was coaching an executive who couldn’t keep her commitments, I asked her why she struggled with keeping her word. She said, “Well my father was married four times before I was 10.” After she confided that information, whenever she struggled with something, she always had another story to tell to excuse her behavior.

Results: Aside from feeling somewhat uncomfortable at hearing these personal revelations, I have noticed that other people who work with such individuals are often irritated by the stories and excuses they repeatedly hear. The story-telling individuals seem to rely on their stories to justify their behavior, rather than making an effort to improve. Co-workers of these individuals tend to avoid them because they always have an excuse related to their past. Consequently people will find a way to avoid working with them if they can.

What to Do: Give them feedback that is factually based. For example, if a person was to continue to tell the same story for not achieving results, you might simply state something like, “In the last three projects, you have used the same story to explain why you didn’t keep your commitment. I am thinking that there is something else going on that is hindering your success. Can you identify what that might be?” Notice that I am sharing the facts, what those facts lead me to believe, and then I am asking for information. Whatever the situation, you need to provide feedback to the individual about what you see them doing, or they will continue to give you more of the same.

10. The Bulldozer pushes to get what they want and ends up burying everyone with their point of view. They may look like they are listening to you but as soon as you finish, they are right back pushing their view. From their perspective what they are stating is the only option.

Results: After a time, people quit listening to these communicators, tune them out, and look for opportunities to do the opposite of whatever they are suggesting. The notion that, “Push creates pushback,” applies to them. The way they deliver their message creates resistance from others. If they are a person in authority, people will go along while hoping that this person’s way of doing things will come back to haunt them, i.e. malicious compliance.

What to Do: Ask questions and listen to their perspective. Be sure that you have understood them thoroughly. Then ask if they would be willing to listen to your perspective on the matter. Be sure to share the facts or data that supports your view. Or if you deem it to be more appropriate, share the impact of their behavior on associates or clients. Then ask them what they think about your perspective. If they return to their idea or way of doing things without commenting as you have requested, then refocus them on addressing your invitation to consider your ideas. When their proposal is the better course of action, acknowledge that. And then pick your battles. These folks are probably used to getting their way. That’s why they push so hard; it generally works for them. You will have to decide when it is worth disagreeing with them. This will take some preparation on your part, but it will be worth the effort if you believe your idea offers a better course of action.

11. The Topper always has a bigger and better idea, story, or experience. As soon as you share an idea, they may say something like, “I’ve tried that but….” Or, “I knew that but…”, then they will offer their idea. They may also try and top you in vocal volume, gestures, and drama. They always seem to want to have the last word on whatever is said.

Results: People quit participating in the conversation or sharing their ideas. The topper’s behavior can become extremely annoying, frustrating, or rude. More aggressive or competitive individuals will try and top them which creates disagreement and argument. People will come to ignore and avoid working with toppers. Such behavior often leads to criticism of the person behind their back, which impacts teamwork, collaboration, and morale.

What to Do: Having a conversation with them about their behavior and how that directly impacts your willingness to share ideas and experiences will be helpful. Don’t be surprised if they admit that they are unaware of their behavior. If they do this, don’t let this be an excuse for letting their behavior continue. Come to an agreement of how you can respectfully let them know what they are doing and how they would like you to let them know.

12. The Drill Sergeant gives commands, very seldom asks questions or provides explanations of “why.” They expect others to do as they are told, to follow their directions, and get things done. They are often accused of yelling or being loud or forceful in the way that they speak.

Results: People often interpret this behavior as anger or rudeness. Some may be put off by the fact that they seem impersonal or insensitive. When interacting with this type of communicator, some will come to tune them out or look for ways to avoid them whenever possible.

What to Do: Making a statement of your commitment to give them exactly what they are asking for is a great way to preface that you have some issues that need clarification in order to perform as they expect. It also would be appropriate to check out your assumptions about their behavior rather than assuming the worst. For example, you might say something like, “I noticed in the meeting that you were unhappy with my progress on this project. I am wondering what I have done or am doing that is not meeting your expectations. Can you help me understand?” Then listen and ask any questions that will clarify your understanding.

13. The Blamer has a reason to explain why they didn’t get results. They may blame someone else, the equipment, the deadline, what they didn’t understand, or the fact that they were having a bad day. Whatever their reasoning, the results they created are never their fault. What is challenging is often the reasons they give are true so we tend to let them off of the hook. But in the end, their stories take the place of results.

Results: People get frustrated with their lack of accountability, don’t trust them, or want to deal with them. Consequently, people will go out of their way to avoid them or rely on them.

What to Do: Holding a conversation with these people about taking initiative to be responsible for meeting commitments and creating the desired results will be helpful. It’s also important to discuss what to do when a challenge occurs and make an action plan for resolving it. Asking a number of questions about how they might have handled a certain challenge differently may help them learn and see their opportunity for taking responsibility for their performance and the creation of their results.

14. The Interrogator uses questions to lead you to a point they are trying to make, or they ask questions to make you look bad in front of others. For most people, questions are born out of curiosity and the desire to learn. This is not the case with this tactic.

Results: People feel disrespected. When someone uses this tactic on someone in front of others, they feel attacked which makes it even harder to answer the question. When this happens, the interrogator usually turns their attention to attacking or belittling the person. People will go out of their way to avoid dealing with this behavior and may even seek other employment. Others will follow suit.

What to Do: When interacting with this type of communicator, you can try answering a question with a question. For example, let’s say someone asks, “Why did you do that?” You might respond with, “What in particular would you like to clarify about this process?” Notice that rather than offer some explanation at this point, you are asking them a question that requires them to think specifically about what they want to know. This should slow them down a bit and make the interaction more respectful and specific.

There are many types of fake talk. Many of these behaviors may succeed in achieving short-term results, but they do not achieve long-term results. It’s important to remember that organizations don’t perform, people do. How we treat and speak to one another goes a long way toward the achievement of what we want. If you are not getting the results you want, take a look at your communication with others. You might find that changing your approach to your conversations with others will make a big difference in the results you achieve.

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What people are saying

Shelli | March 25, 2016 | REPLY
Really liked these articles on Fake Talk. So helpful for people to begin to identify what's going awry in their communication with others instead of feeling helpless and uninformed. Talking about the results and what we can do puts us back in control.
John Stoker | March 30, 2016 | REPLY
Glad you liked those articles. I have at least seven more strategies, but I didn't think anyone would be interested. I think it is fascinating to see the kind of antics that we all might engage in that don't necessarily help us get what we want. Best to you. Thanks for reading!!
Claro | April 2, 2016 | REPLY
Great Article. I can relate myself to almost all the cases. But how can we avoid it AND get what we want?
John Stoker | May 10, 2016 | REPLY
Claro, The first thing we must do is to become more aware of what we are doing. That becomes more easy when we don't get the results that we want. Once you can learn to more objectively see yourself, then you can begin to make some different choices about how you interact with people. Then notice the results that you get. I recently taught a session for a group of managers. One of them disagreed with everything that I said. He was more there to prove to himself that he was right and I was wrong. Ironically, he had more difficulties with interacting with others than anyone in the session. Finally I pulled him aside and asked him if I could give him a question to consider when the class was over. I was surprised that he was even open to it, but he was. Here is the question, "What do you do, that causes people to show up for you in the way that they do?" A great question that we should all stop to reflect upon. Because whatever we do, we do and say things that causes folks to show up in the way that they do. Once you can notice that in yourself, then you can begin to make some changes that should help you improve. Thanks for the question that you asked. Best wishes! j