You Talk Too Much

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Sometimes I talk too much. I never want to be that guy who doesn't know when to shut up. My wife helps me out here. We often conduct a social postmortem where I get feedback on whether or not I talked a friend's ear off. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't  I am definitely aware of my tendency to ramble on and on. What can I say? Lots. As an out-loud thinker with a busy mind I have the capacity to talk all day. I had a conversation this week about the art of listening. I discovered several techniques that are going to help me take advantage of the two to one ratio that exists between my ears and mouth. The main thing is that I need to have conversations with other people and not just myself. I realize that moving quickly between ideas often leaves others in the dust and with no comment.  So here is how I slow down and speak less.

1. Give other people time to respond.

Not everyone is a verbal processor. Some will need you to be quiet in order to be able to think. Give a gift by waiting for others to respond. Know that their silence is not a sign of miscommunication but is, rather, a part of their process.

2. Think in terms of sentences, not paragraphs or pages.

Find ways to communicate your ideas in fewer words. You may want to hold on to complex ideas for more appropriate conversations. Think about it in this way: you can speak in terms of sentences, paragraphs or pages. When you converse through sentences you are allowing room for other people to speak. You are saying less. When you are speaking in terms of paragraphs or pages you are expressing more complex ideas and are hogging the microphone.

3. Be OK with silence.

Sometimes its OK if no one is speaking. Lots of great things happen in silence, even for verbal people. I practice moments of silence every day but am afraid to do so in the company of others. Why? I am sure there are lots of reasons. But the point is that the lack of words doesn't necessarily express a failure of communication.

Any other talkers out there with me? Give these three ideas a spin and see if you can manage to become a better listener. Speaking less make greatly enhance your communication skills. Who knows! You may say a lot more by speaking less.

Brent ColbyComment