Actually, you have an obligation to remain silent…the right is in the speech. On this day of celebration of our inalienable rights, I can’t help but think about our freedoms. Unfortunately, speaking doesn’t come with an owner’s manual or license, so anyone, anywhere, anytime can say what’s on their mind…therein lies the lesson.
Just because we have the right, does not mean we should not use discretion when we open our mouth. Sometimes, especially in a customer meeting, NOT talking is the best form of communication.
Statistics show that people want to talk about themselves; no surprise there, but there are further studies that go on to say that no one likes to do business with a know it all. And friends don’t either. Do you friends think you’re oblivious, self-absorbed, narcissistic, selfish or egocentric? A conversation is not a monologue — it’s about sharing and paying attention to the needs of the person you’re talking to.
Here are some great tips from an old Kiplinger article: Do You Talk Too Much?
- Adopt the traffic-light rule when you talk. During the first 30 seconds, the light is green and your listener probably isn’t bored. During the next 30 seconds, the light is yellow — your risk of annoying the listener increases. Look for a place to stop. After 60 seconds, the light is red. There may be rare times when you should run a red light — for example, when you’re sharing a fascinating anecdote — but, usually, you’d better stop.
- When you pause, pose a question, such as, “What do you think?” or “Am I being clear — really?” Adding really gives your listener permission to admit that he or she didn’t understand or wasn’t paying attention.
- If, in any conversation, you’re speaking more than 60% of the time, you’re talking too much. Fifty percent is better. Thirty to forty percent is usually best.
- Always remember you’ll learn more by listening; at that 30 second mark, look for a place to stop and then engage your ears.
I’m a talker…come from a long line of talkers…and we have to very consciously STOP or even slow down! It does take conscious effort and a true interest in what others have to say.
And all of this is just to say that today, on this celebration day of our civil liberties, that listening may prove to be a much more coveted trait than speaking ever was. And sometimes you have to practice at being an active listener…or at least you do in the beginning. Here are a few tips from The Positive Way on listening as a form of caring:
Active listening is a vital part of good communication. Mirroring, paraphrasing, and clarification are examples of active listening skills that have been demonstrated to be effective for reaching understanding. Most communication experts recommend some variation of these skills. Use them to bridge the gap in your listening differences. To listen effectively you should CARE for those you’re listening to:
- C – concentrate – focus on the speaker
- A – acknowledge – through body language – nod your head occasionally or say uh-huh
- R – respond – ask questions for clarification and interest
- E – empathize – share in their emotions and feelings. Validate your partner
This may seem fake or insincere, but every habit requires repetition. And making an attempt beats not trying every time. At least until it becomes a constant the “fake it ‘til you make it” rule applies. Practicing to be a good listener will only lead to positive interaction at the negotiating table…and the dinner table!