Some people get to the point too quickly (with no feedforward) and some never get to the point. After a recent talk, a manager asked me an interesting question. “My girlfriend says I talk too much but I want to make sure she understands. Do you think I could be talking too much? What should I do?”
Well, if someone suggests that you talk too much, you probably do….out of habit. (Then again some of us have trouble thinking of things to say, which sometimes causes awkward moments at dinner parties.)
Fortunately, there’s an easy way to test if you talk too much, or if you’re carrying on more than your audience cares to hear. If you hear snoring, you’ve probably said too much. Here’s an easy intervention. Simply stop talking in the middle of your story.
Yep. Just do it. See what happens. There are 2 dominant possibilities:
1. Someone else takes over the conversation and flow is uninterrupted. (If so, bite your tongue.)
2. There is a moment of silence and someone asks you, begs you, to continue your story.
Either way, it’s win win.
In some cases, you run in to someone who tends to be chatty and you don’t have time for a long conversation. Here’s how to deal with talkative buddies and stay friends with them.
1. Greet your buddy with enthusiasm.
2. Right away, without pause, say that you’re on your way to X.
3. Probably the other person will respect that and keep it brief. If not, you gave fair warning, so it’s fine to interrupt and explain that you need to run. Bye bye!
The tricky part of this is with phone calls.
When calling, the best communicators always ask if it’s a good time to talk.
You can help people get to the point, in case you need to do so, by telling the person you have only a couple of minutes now and you’d like to know about their issue and if necessary you’ll finish the conversation later.
Most people are terrible listeners because it’s hard to listen anyway and there are so many distractions. You can develop mindful listening. With mindful listening, people feel understood and validated, and experience less need to talk.
Attention spans are only getting shorter. Your challenge is to communicate through the clutter.