I don’t mean to seem disinterested at times. I really don’t, I promise you.Today on our way to the airport, a coworker and I were talking about being in a group of people and how, after a certain point – meaning after the gathering reaches a certain number of individuals, we stop being chatty and start simply observing. Four or five is my max; five was his. Interestingly, we both said that people often times don’t understand our silence. No, we’re not upset, and no, we don’t wish we were somewhere else. We’re just listening, tracking, pondering, then thinking some more. And just when we think we’re done thinking, we begin dissecting the thoughts we just had, and then we try tying them back to the conversation that’s happening. There is, after all, much to digest. You can tell me something and I will hear you, take it to heart, think about it, catalog it, file it away, then dust it off and bring it out sometime down the road to think about again – not to dwell, just because something will spark a thought, a memory, and before you know it, I’m walking down that infamous lane. I’m pretty sure I’ve always been more of a thinker than a speaker, and more of an observer than an instigator. And I like it that way.
Then there’s the workplace. I’ve known people who have nothing to say in meetings or non-work gatherings of coworkers except to say the very thing someone else just said, but more loudly. Or they always need to tell a story that’s exactly the same – but just a smidge better than the one they just heard. It is tiring to listen to. It makes me wonder if they are capable of their own thoughts – beyond just, “Oh, I have a better story,” or “Oh, now would be a great time to brag.” Those are thoughts, yes. But we like them to go a little deeper, no?
In typical fashion, I did much thinking on the flight home. I jotted down a few story ideas, and I thought some more about thinking versus talking. While there are many kinds of people out there, there are two kinds that are the topic of this blog: thinkers and talkers. Thinkers could probably stand to talk more, and talkers could stand to think more. And while the latter can propel me to up and leave a room even if only to try to maintain my sanity, there’s likely a corresponding action for those talkers who are puzzled by us quiet ones. I don’t know what it is, but I’m sure there’s one.
In the end, it always takes two types to make the world go round. Coke vs. Pepsi. Adidas vs. Puma. Thinkers vs. Talkers – and I am thankful for them all. Without an opposite, there can be no learning, no thinking, no course-correcting, no give and take. If there was only one side to every pairing, how much fun would that be?