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How to remember a thought you have while someone is talking so you can bring it up afterwards (rather than derailing them)

McKinley Valentine — 2 min read
How to remember a thought you have while someone is talking so you can bring it up afterwards (rather than derailing them)
Photo by Immo Wegmann / Unsplash

Conversational pins! I use this constantly, and I take it so much for granted that I almost never tell people about it (except when they've just seen me do it and I need to explain it), even though it is one of the most practical things I use.

The context here is conversations between people who know the urge to interrupt just comes from being interested and excited about what they're saying, and so you're having spin-off thoughts - but you still want to let them say their thing, because you're genuinely interested in hearing the rest of it.

Basically you just say "pin" and mime pinning the thought to a corkboard. I'm pretty sure you have to do the action for the memory to hold. (If the person doesn't know about pinning, you can say "Oh! I have a thought about that - I'll just pin it [mime]. Please continue") I don't know if this seems goofy, but no one's every reacted strangely to it? I think because the concept of pinning something to a corkboard to remember it is intuitive and instantly understood. I swear this comes across as pretty natural irl. Everyone I've explained it to has started doing it.

Similarly, if you're talking and you see someone light up or look like they want to speak (you know the look of someone who wants to say something but is resisting the urge), you can say "pin that thought" (or explain about pinning), and then finish what you were going to say. Then - "what was your pin?"

The mime seems to make your brain remember the point of the conversation you were at, which then triggers you to think of the thing you wanted to say.

This means: conversations flow better, everybody gets a chance to say their most interesting thoughts, and you listen more (because you're not distracted by resisting the urge to say the thing, or worrying you will forget the thing). And I think it's kind of a nice gift to be able to give the person who wanted to interrupt you but didn't, the gift of ensuring they remember the thing and giving them an opportunity to say it.

This piece was originally published in The Whippet #59 – subscribe to get the next one in your inbox!

Unsolicited AdviceEQ & Interpersonal


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