“He talks too much” – Oops, I did it again
Photo credit: Ralf Weiser
In recent conversations at home and at work this sentence has popped up way too many times to go unnoticed. Let it be meetings, interviews, or just social conversations and folks provide the commentary that the one or the other person just talks too much. Being verbose myself this struck me like a bolt of lightning. Is there such a thing as talking too much?
Of course there is you might say, but when do we cross the line? There are a few interesting observations that I am hoping may jog your brain as well:
- The magic 2 minute rule: When someone asks you a question make sure you pay more attention how much time you are taking in answering. Typically (no exact science here), between 45 seconds and 2 minutes are a great time frame for you to respond.
- Staying on topic: How do you like when you ask someone a question and the answer has nothing to do with it? No fun, right? Staying on topic is really super important, or otherwise you will be tuned out completely.
- Take a breathing break: Once someone interacts with you and asks you a question, please take a breath before you respond. For one this is a lot healthier and will allow your brain to slow down and therefore not letting your lizard brain (fight, flight, flee) to go over the edge with you. The more important reason is allowing for your counterpart to literally feel that you are taking them seriously. Best is asking qualifying question so your counterpart gets to know you really want to understand core of the issue.
- Talking is Silver, asking questions is Gold: You need to converse with other people. Doing this well typically means you will do well in social and work settings. The best thing to do though in positively engaging others so the both of you benefit from it is asking questions. If you know your stuff is great, but what if other people whom you may not know well know more, or even more interesting stuff than you? The only way finding out is asking intelligent questions.
- Look for obvious clues: There are very obvious clues when people start tuning you out and perhaps are looking for a way ending a conversation that is taking too long. I have heard of some people who actually text others asking them to get called by them such that their conversation with someone talking too much can come to an end. Seriously, when people start looking at their watch, phone, feet, sky, and stop looking you in the eye you should realize that the conversation you are in needs a change – or end. Also, the person will stop facing you and stand at an angle. Take the hint and let the other person speak for a change.
- When asked for the time, don’t tell them how to build the clock: Discerning what kind of question you have been asked is another really rare skill very few of us possess. When someone only needs a quick answer, just don’t hog his time by going back to Creation of the Universe. Easier said than done, but you should try doing this no matter what.
- Sending clues yourself: One of the most efficient ways to stop people from hogging your time because they want to chat with you is wearing headphones – the ones with the visible big mic that you can place in front of your mouth. The bigger the set, the better. This sends out the signal that you are busy and do not want to be disturbed.
When someone I knew well and really liked a lot made a point of picking a different route just to avoid having to speak with me I had to take inventory of my own behavior. I had to admit that I needed to make a change as well. In fact, blogging has made a huge change for me. Instead of hogging up people’s time, I can type up what I am thinking about and share it with everyone online. The beauty is that people can now tune either in or out at their leisure. This has made for a lot shorter conversations these days and I do not engage in longer conversations much unless the other person is specifically asking for more background information.
We have 5 senses helping to receive information and we use 1 feature the most to distribute info: Our mouths! How ironic is that? Perhaps this is a clue trying to tell us something?