People tend to repeat, with some frequency, the things they believe most vehemently in. The more often they are repeated, the less often they are likely to be listened to. This impacts the health and wellness of both parties involved.
The scene is the water cooler or staff room at work. A small group is standing around while one person seems to be delivering a kind of break-time lesson. Another person walks in. Recognizing the talk as one they have heard many times before, that person turns on their heels and immediately exits the space, hoping to not be noticed. It’s been said and heard. It’s enough.
The phenomenon is a lot more common that most people realize. Sometimes, in an effort to be respectful and polite, we tolerate someone repeating themselves for the umpteenth time. At other times, we may feel like Popeye the Sailor whose “That’s all I can stands ‘˜cause I cain’t stands no more” applies.
Repetition in a seemingly magical way causes ears to quickly close.
The expression “One Trick Pony” derives from the idea of a person knowing (or seeming to know) only one thing and repeating it to anyone they can get to listen. Known, in some circles, as a “bore,” people tend to avoid this individual and understandably so.
Generally, the individual doing all the repeating is either 1) unaware that they are doing so, of 2) well aware that they are doing so feeling that the message is important enough to keep on repeating in spite of any negative response from intended listeners. I suspect people often claim #1 when confronted with this, but are really motivated by #2.
If a person has something they feel is important to say, they should definitely say it ‘” once ‘” and only to someone who cares enough to be listening. The technique, perfected by the folks at FOX News of repeating untruths until they sound like realities, does not work well at an interpersonal level.
Developing the capacity of what we therapists call an “observing ego” (an ability to step outside of ourselves and see ourselves as we are being experienced by others) is of the essence. Some of us are better at it than others! It is not just about seeing ourselves, but about listening to ourselves as well.
When speaking, try to remember to look around at the faces of the people with you. Do they appear interested and engaged, or bored? One-by-one, are people making excuses and leaving the group? These may be signs that what you are saying has either 1) been heard already, or 2) is not really of interest o those you are speaking to.
Face-watching while speaking is a highly developed skill in good teachers and an absent capacity in really terrible ones. The idea applies not only to teachers, but to each of us in our daily lives ‘” both at home or at work; whether as friends, parents, colleagues or partners.
Speak once and be heard — Repeat yourself too often and be ignored or discounted.