If you read last week’s post, you may be wondering what genre of person you are. If you identify with being a Manic Impressive, you are clearly in the Jazz camp. You’re expressive, creative, spontaneous, and yes, at times, you can be a pain in the ass.
Okay, that may seem a bit harsh. But the one complaint people have about Jazz is that it’s sometimes a bit complicated and hard to follow. Jazz musicians have great freedom in how they play. But if they get too far outside the chord structure they can lose their audience.
Try listening to this to hear what playing outside the rules of convention feels like to others. See if you can make it to the sax solo at 5:22. You’ll know what I’m talking about.
These are great musicians, but most people don’t walk away from this kind of music humming the tune. The melody is too hard to find for most folks.
So to get better results, try reining it in a bit for the sake of others. Here are a few ways to be the kind of Jazz others will appreciate.
Don’t Be Hard To Follow
Not everyone likes to move in a non-linear way. Most people like to know where you’re going with things. I’m not saying you have to tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, and then tell them what you told them. That used to be good advice, but it can be overbearing. A little mystery is a good thing.
But total mystery leaves people confused. And confused people don’t jump to action, make good decisions, or buy from you. They will resist you and wander away. If you need to inspire and be admired, you need to be easy to follow.
So give clear instructions, don’t wander too far from your agenda, and make it easier for folks to hum your tune.
Make Your Point And Go Home
Manics are great story-tellers and love to entertain. But you can quickly go from life of the party to pain in the ass if you require too much attention from others. So when you gather a crowd, make your point quickly.
You probably know people you avoid in social settings because they take too damn long to get to the point. They spend so much time setting up a story with laborious detail, that you lose interest before they get to the punchline.
So shorten your windup. Deliver your pitch quickly, and spend the majority of time with the part of your message people want to hear. How it will benefit them.
Don’t be a pain. Get to the good stuff fast and leave out the extraneous embellishment.
Share The Spotlight
While you’re basking in that beautiful glow of attention, save some for others. Get off the stage so others can get a shot.
No one likes a ball hog. So when you’ve gotten a taste of glory, leave them wanting more. Leave before you’re asked to, and maybe they’ll ask you back again.
I once got a standing ovation at a club for a rousing rendition of “Just A Gigolo.” I really killed it and they were loving me for it. But I fell victim to vanity and launched into another tune.
Halfway through the third chorus of “Hey Jude”, I realized my mistake. I should have quit when I was ahead. Instead, I ruined a great night by being greedy. They were done with me while I was still on stage singing. Awkward!
That memory is still a painful reminder of what can happen when you’re a pain in the ass and overstay your welcome.
Give Equal Time
I went on a date once with a woman who couldn’t stop talking. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. At the end of the night, I just wanted to get away. Then she said something amazing to me.
“You’re such a good listener, I feel like I can tell you anything.”
Though I wanted to blurt out, “No, please don’t! You’ve told me too much already!”, I kept my mouth shut, accepted the compliment, and learned something about my own behavior.
I had never been complimented for being a good listener before.
But I had often been guilty of dominating conversations as she had. Since then I’ve been much more aware of giving others equal time.
And no, we did not go out again.
So at your holiday parties this year, try measuring the time you speak against the time you listen. If you’re talking more than 50% of the time in a conversation, you may be a pain in the ass to listen to.
Make sure that the people around you share their thoughts and feelings as much as you share with them. Better yet, ask them questions to draw them out. Show some real interest in them.
You’ll still have plenty of time to crack your jokes and tell your stories. But you’ll be a welcome addition to the party instead of a pain if you listen attentively and laugh generously at other people’s material.
How To Not Be A Pain In The Ass
So while you’re thinking of how to be a better you, remember these key points. Be easy to follow, get to your point without endless jibber jabber, share the spotlight, and give equal time to others by listening more than you speak.
I’ve been guilty as sin on all these points, and I’ve paid the price. But I’m trying to learn from my transgressions. So don’t be a pain in the ass like me. Be better than me. Be a better you.
If you’re Jazz, be the joyous kind the world wants to hear.