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How to Deal with Negative Conversations

Tellers, Sellers, and Yellers


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		  Tellers, Sellers, and Yellers   

These three types of talkers like to have the final word. 
They also like to be right. 

“Tellers” Style   

“Tellers” lecture, expound, and explain to others.  Their tendency may be an occupational style that often  accompanies professions of expertise such as medical  doctors, college professors, attorneys, and other  advice-givers.   

In conversation, tellers will tend to use forms of the  very to be. They believe they are explaining to you the  way it “really is.” You will not find them using modifying  phrases like “the way it looks to me,” or “my viewpoint on  that is . . .” Instead, they will speak their truth as if it is  THE truth when instead, as we know, it is their opinion,  or their conclusion, or merely their “story.”   

Tellers feel satisfaction in talking much more than in  attending or actually listening. After all, during listening  they will sometimes hear thoughts and opinions contrary  to their own, and that is not at all satisfying to them.  They'd prefer hearing themselves informing others, and  they are usually well-intentioned in doing so, even though  blinded to the possibility that others also have valid ideas  to share. They are willing to accept mere acquiescence  as an appropriate response.   

“Sellers” Style   

Sellers like to “close the sale” by managing the talk.  They are usually well-rehearsed in their opinions, and  they seek to convince, to overcome objections, even to  wear down their conversational targets (or adversaries.)  Sellers get their satisfaction from “winning'em over” and  having other conversers actually admit “I guess you're  right.”   

Some sellers are actual salespersons, but one need not  work in this profession to adopt the “seller's stance”  during conversation. For example, lots of people show  symptoms of the “selling” approach when they use the  “Yes, but . . .” structures to dismiss your objections.  They want their ideas to prevail and are –basically –  not open to really considering your alternative ideas.  (Notice this style manifesting during our current political  season – when both “sides” believe they are absolutely  right..)   

“Yellers” Style   

“Yellers” will attempt to conquer with vocal volume.  Their voices will become louder as they overtalk. Try  to interrupt them? No use. They talk louder, and they  keep talking. (Public examples include the pundits on  the CNN “Crossfire” program.)   

Private examples abound, as in personal and spousal  arguments. Observe children yellers, and also observe  grown-up “children” trying to out-shout each other when  civility and reason fails.   

At its best, conversation is a collaboration among people,  not a competition. Sometimes, for fun (as in word-games),  it can be a “co-opetition.” In the teller, seller, and yeller  styles, the frame around the conversation is competition:  The teller seeks to overcome ignorance by “informing.”  The seller seeks to convince the reluctant or the wrong-headed  by winning the argument. The yeller seeks to dominate  by vocal power – to win by overtalk or shouting.   

These three types may be fluent and verbally skilled talkers  but, lacking the instinct for collaboration, they are not masters  at conversation.  


Loren Ekroth ©2012, All rights reserved.

Loren Ekroth, Ph.D. is a specialist in human communication and a national expert on conversation for business and social life.

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