10 Power Tips for Leaders who Talk too Much
All the interesting things you say, make you uninteresting to others. Few talkers enthrall listeners. Don’t think of yourself as one.
You know too much and have too much to say. Passion sets your tongue on fire. You can’t wait to create enthusiasm, solve problems, and share transformative insights.
In a busy world brevity matters.
You’ve talked too much when people move on after you’re done speaking; there’s no follow up or comeback. I’ve inspired the glazed-eye-look. Have you? Ouch!
10 Power Tips for Talkers:
- Speak only as long as the other person spoke. Conversation equity is reached sooner than you think. This is true because you’re more interesting, for you. Stop talking sooner.
- Think communication not talking. Talking isn’t communicating.
- Avoid fire hoses when people want sips. Short simple questions call for short simple answers.
- Keep background information to yourself. Don’t give the whole picture. Have you ever heard the whole story when all you wanted was chapter one? Ugh!
- Clarify problems before giving solutions or explanations. If you don’t, you’ll end up solving the wrong problem.
- Always ask questions before making suggestions, always.
- Invite more conversations by emphasizing what you ask and minimizing what you say.
- Fall in love with silence. Just let it hang there for a bit. The need to fill silence indicates a self-centered focus.
- Give short answers and ask if you answered their question. You can always say more but you can never take back.
- Wait for people to invite you to say more. Scary isn’t it?
Bonus: Stop interrupting.
Stop talking before others stop listening. The less you say the more interesting and inviting you become.
What talking tips can you add?
When is it appropriate to capitalize a conversation?
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I have nothing to say to that 😉 Unless you ask a question, that is !
Good one Imelda! Love it.
There are many times where you can take a statement you wish to make and turn it into a brief question. This causes you to conserve your words and your audience has the opportunityto at least think about the message. Haven’t you noticed how the person asking the most questions seems to be the person in charge?
Great tip, Scott. Thanks.
Thanks Scott…turn statements into questions.
Dan, very basic problem but one that is rampant in the leadership world. I saw myself in too many of your bullets. Thanks – this list is going on my bulletin board.
Your opening paragraphs show the deep insight you have, and your ability to be empathetic towards those who struggle. Kudos to you once again – there are obvious reasons why so many of us depend on you for a daily reality check.
Your comment humbles me.
As you and all regular readers know, I do like direct statements and resist the temptation to include all the exceptions. Thanks for understanding and embracing this style with it’s limitations.
I respect your honesty about being in the bullets. Frankly, I usually write my posts to myself and then change the voice to “you.” It seems to have more punch. I’m in the bullets too. 🙂
Thanks for being here.
And here I thought you were writing them to me!! 🙂
Maybe your crossed my mind… 😉
Thanks for having fun.
He was, Jim, we are doing an intervention for ya! 😉
Well I have to chime in here. Ouch and double Ouch. This post Dan is the one that has most resonated with me. I was not sure I was reading or looking in the mirror. Like Greg said I am making a poster and hanging this in my office. Thanks for the humbling insights. 🙂
Imelda beat me to it! Great list. Linking this to mentors, it reminds me of a very good CEO/ Mentor I had who at times could be mistaken for being D.O.A. during a meeting. He would let all the babble continue until it just about chewed itself up, then ask one simple question which stopped all sides in their tracks. He got me after a particular rant about providing an equitable solution to the Dairy farmers when he asked “Richard can you define for me what equitable means to Dairy farmers from different companies?” Next question?
Wow you sure drove that point home! I’m still stinging from the equitable question.
You remind me of something Drucker said about listening first and speaking last.
Thanks for a great story, even if it did sting a bit.
Haha, didn’t mean to take a dig at you Dan, it’s simply the story i think of most often before i let my mouth shoot of in an ‘unqualified’ manner (that’s not a dig either!). i better just shut up.
I was going to wait until everyone posted and then chime in…. 😉
And how great does it feel when everyone pauses, there is a brief silence, and listens to you! You have landed in a very respected position and there are obligations that go with that honor.
As noted, really ‘hear’ what others are saying, in between the lines, really ‘see’ how they are saying it, in their body language, and particularly eye contact, really ‘feel’ what they are saying, is there passion or is there smoke? As you do all that (no small task), ‘be the Borg’ and be assimilating your observations that will ‘add, not echo’ what has been stated-unless emphasis seems needed. If a reframe or addition to the discussion is needed, keep it with the customer, the service, the organization, the vision in mind. And even if you have the floor, if you do not have anything to add, say so.
Nice. Totally un-obfuscated.
Just want you to know I get the Borg comment! Resistance is futile. 🙂
The greatest compliment we give others is listening.
How do you pronounce that?
You’re like spice to the conversation.
Doc loquaciousness and verbosity yuk my nemesis and everyone keeps reminding me about the KISS principle. Have to check my hearing…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… (shh me being quiet and listening.)
The emphasis on listening, inquiry, and silence are so important. These elements are what turn serial monologuing into conversation.
I’ve been in that place too, wanting to be the smartest person in the room, only to let my mind and mouth run on way too long. It’s easy to say too much, much harder to be brief because you really have to think before you speak.
One of the best things on speaking I ever read characterized speaking as “listening to the listening.” That’s the only way you can know if it’s time to stop, or if it’s your turn.
It’s starting to feel good to hear others identify with the problem I feel of talking too much. Thanks 🙂
Listen to the listening! KaChing!! The challenge is to stop talking before the listening stops.
Thanks for a nugget and making me think.
Dan, I had just been supervising a colleague … and then read this!
Oh the curse of self reflection! What on earth was I doing?
Excellent post … and one which has really made me think about me and what I am doing!
Thanks for being you. It’s so encouraging.
I’ll jump in with you… I can’t tell you how many “what was I thinking moments I’ve had.”
Been there, done that, ugh. Thanks for raising this topic (and in so few words, too!).
Thanks Sarah. I can see it’s getting traction with many of us. Cheers, Dan
Thank you Dan! 🙂
Thank you Dena! 🙂
Great tips, Dan! And great questions! and since you asked…
Question: What talking tips can you add?
These tips align very nicely to the principles Trainers’ use – I have based the Train-the-Trainer that I deliver on all those principles. We can also use these principles as parents, and with friends and family.
Another principle I like is: you should talk less (20% of the time spent together) and engage the other to talk more (80% of the time) – borrowed from sales – and good for those who are numbers focused! *smile*
A valuable lesson I learned last year… when you listen don’t think about how what they said aligns with your life and then share that. I had been doing this to create connection. I learned that doing this detracts value from what the person just shared, shining the light on you… again!
Question: When is it appropriate to capitalize a conversation?
When you are asked a GREAT question and people genuinely want to know (watch for non-verbals). When a crowd gathers, you know it’s OK to keep going. *smile*
Always love what you write, Dan.
Love your insights and transparency. The old 80/20 rule keeps popping up. 🙂
You’ve given me something to think about re: sharing how you align with the person talking and how it may not create alignment. You’re really making me think.
So here’s the rule for when to keep talking. When people are enthralled keep going.
I’ll add, leave them wanting more. Thats one of the hardest things to do.
Thanks for stopping in,
Leaders should not assume that they have to be able to say clever, engaging and interesting things “off the top of their heads”. Forethought matters. Thinking about apposite comments and trying them out for size before engaging is always helpful. Nor do leaders need to write everything they say. Remember that the comedian Bob Hope used to have a team of writings who came up with gags and throw away lines. They also acted as the editors since he wouldn’t use the text unless it first made them laugh. You might want to take a look at this http://reputationstuff.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/leaders-get-out-and-stay-out/
Thanks for your comment.
For some reason your statement about get out and stay out made me think of Warren Buffet’s method of delegating to the CEO’s of his companies. He says to run it like they own it and don’t contact him more than once a year.
I suppose that hasn’t much to do with today’s topic but I’m talking too much today.. 😉
Great post! As a Sales/Marketing guy I have long taught, “everything you need to understand (to win the day) is locked inside the prospect.. it’s not your pitch(!) its unlocking his/her needs so you understand HOW & WHERE to pitch, they must talk, not us!”
You’ve powerfully captured the leadership shift from us to others. Thank you.
I have so learned the gift of gap or not. It’s a work in progress because I like to empower people but sometimes it’s easy to go overboard. Give just enough and then listen, listen, listen.
Thanks for the reminder that we’re on a journey. When I think of how I’ve over-talked it can be discouraging. I’m not where I want to be but I’m not where I was, either. Progress is encouraging.
Excellent post, Dan! I would add that these tips could fall into written communication, too. When a short sentence would answer the question, why use a paragraph? Unless one is writing a school paper that needs a specific number of words or pages, brevity is key to communication. Get to the point and move on!
Setting a limit of 300 words makes me delete a lot of “great” stuff. 🙂
I smiled thinking about the school papers I padded with extra words.
Reblogged this on Red Toenails and commented:
To talk or not to talk…
If I may jump in here and interject… interrupting is a related habit to watch out for. lol
This isn’t just a problem in leadership. As a consultant, I have to show I am knowledgeable without letting passion take over the conversation. Glad I’m not the only one not-so-silently suffering from this affliction.
The issue of being knowledgeable is important to this conversation. Too much silence we look dumb.
Thank you for bringing this to the table.
Hope more leaders read this! Thanks, Dan.
Best advice I ever got was. Whatever it is, you can say it with 25% less than what you think.
I like it. 25% may be a bit low… I wouldn’t be surprised if 50% is attainable.
Excellent tips Dan. We truly connect by listening. Less is more. As questions and actually LISTEN to answers. and of course, Stop interrupting. Wow, Some great suggestions. Thanks for these wonderful reminders.Hope you are feeling good these days.
My personal tip fits in with all you’ve posted. Be quiet, pay attention with all your senses, and let other people speak.
As a physician, I have always maintained that I can keep my own mouth shut long enought for the patient to speak her complete thoughts, I know eactly what’s wrong with her at least 80% of the time, without having to do an exam. The patients think its some kind of magic, because they know they have “explained ” this to several people before.
What people really want to say isn’t often the first thing they say. Some need more time to filter their thoughts verbally, than others. And if we overrun them, they won’t ever have an opportunity to be truly heard.
My real question is: What do you do if the person ypu’ve described is your boss or supervisor? How do you get these over-talkers to shut up, back it down a little?
Guess we could start by forwarding this article to them 🙂
Great suggestion, ksrikrishna.
That’s a good point. I may leave it in theil mailbox. Thanks guys. 🙂
Martina, if you have the relationship then in a quiet moment, I might say something like, “Do you mind if I give you a little feedback that I think would help you as you lead?” While most people will say “yes”, pause long enough to read their body language. You might add, “Are you sure?” You are respecting that space. Then, as gently, but firmly, tell them. Short and sweet. It’s just information. Information they need. What they do after that, well, it can take awhile, but if you see any signs of improvement, give them that feedback as well.
Thanks, Jim. We have sufficient relationship, and he usually acts like he’s listening when I remind him that it needs to be “short and sweet” but once his mouth starts moving, there is no restraining, or apparently re-training him.
This is something I actively work on every day. I am a natural storyteller and I feel a great need to tell everyone the entire story whether they want to hear it or not. Over the years I learned to look for the glazed-eye-look you talk about as I am responsible for a lot of those. But I’m still struggling with items 1, 4 and especially 10 on your list. I think if I can keep item 1, only speaking as much as the other person in the conversation, at the front of my thoughts that might be a great help to me and the people trapped in conversation with me. Thanks for great ideas.
Wow! Every SINGLE one applies to me.
Dan, where were you in my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s? Oh, probably with me! Great post…one to be framed. As a former CEO and now coach, #6 resonates with me, “Always ask questions before making suggestions, always.” My version is “make less statements, ask more questions.” Either way, the power of questions to encourage, to bewilder, to clarify, to be interested, and to allow others the entry to their own answers, thus affirming, is wonderful. I have found it particularly wonderful as a parent.
I think you have hit a nerve here, Dan, judging by the pace of comments being added!
Humorously, one of the best and most basic primers regarding conversation happened on The Brady Bunch, when Jan was being socially awkward. Her mom explained that conversation is like a tennis match. When the conversational ball is hit to you, hit it back with an answer/follow up. No tennis match would be very successful with someone hogging the ball.
I have been so hardwired by my early training in counseling not to ever ask a closed-ended question or “give advice.” I am learning ( a few decades later, that there ARE times when it is appropriate to say exactly what I think without reframing the topic into the form of a question (i.e., “Well, Descendants has gotten better buzz than Bridesmaids – let’s see that!). But I still find the need for closed end (yes/no) questions rare. Unless the person is in the way of imminent harm, I would almost always rather see them come to their own conclusion rather than cram it down their throat.
Capitalizing a conversation? Best only if you are the 911 operator trying to talk a layperson through a tricky emergency procedure.
I agree that talking is not communication. I surprise whether leaders talk too much. And the one who talks too much is really a leader. I have seen people talking so much that others just listen and wait talking to over. These people are also expert on all the subjects. They believe that talking in about knowledge and by this perception they realize others that they are knowledgeable. But there is dark side of perception. Those who talk too much might have hidden strategy not to allow question by others. I believe that they are afraid of being exposed and that is why they do not allow others to talk, for example politicians, rumor mongers and backstabbers etc.
I think talking tip is about connectivity and sensitivity. You should understand others need and connect with others. When people are open, responsive and holistic approach, then you can capitalize a conversation. Personally I do not treat talking too much as a leadership quality.
Thanks Dan. This is JUST what I needed to see today. Guilty on most counts.
I actually waited a while before I read today’s post. Shucks, I saw myself in the TITLE before I even got to the bullet points. Sigh
I am passionate about my work, passionate about the cause. That is essential to my job. But I do need to hold back so as not to overwhelm others. I am a story teller…but do need to learn to just share chapter by chapter.
Thanks for a FABULOUS post today!
The very best leaders are the ones who don’t have to say much because their followers are fully aware of their purpose, role and task. They become fully engaged in the project, or their day-to-day routine. They have been trained well, and they have been led well. If there are questions, need for clarity, or the need to make decisions regarding issues or next steps, they work as a team to move the ball forward; seldom requiring the leader to be involved. This is the essence of the NEW leadership organization, where people know the leader’s intent and desired end result. The team knows what that end looks like and they know how to mold their efforts to that result. The leader says nothing so that he can focus on the bigger issues in his world. Only when absolutely necessary does he get involved. No micro-managing, although the leader will require the team to update him on progress. This is true leadership, thanks to true followership.
Take what you want to say and turn it into a question? Sounds useful!
I have already said enough so will listen and learn. Thanks for the lessons you all and Dan one for the books. 🙂
Thanks for the advice Dan. How about, “Just because someone is telling you their problem, doesn’t mean they want you to solve it.” Just ask my wife 🙂
Sometimes I hate looking in the mirror for fear of what I might see – thanks for reminding me it’s still necessary.
So true and helpful- keep them coming!
In a world ‘brilliant’!
That stings! I just saw my reflection in that list. Love your articles Dan, but this one especially!
Good blog. Love the visual!
Thanks for the post Dan, learning to be a communicator is difficult and takes a lot of work, for me at least.
I’m reading “Everyone Communicates Few Connect” by John Maxwell.. If anyone is wanting to learn more on communication this is a good book.
Anyone got any other good resources?
I think this could be really good at my workplace. I am not the only one there that does talk a lot.
One extra piece of advice that chimes in with number 5 & 6. Always make sure you understand the questions before answering, understand your audience. Knowing these two things helps you give the right answer. After all a director asking about something would not want technical details, just the executive summary.
Some questions naturally call for a Yes or No answer, anything else it fluff.
I have a lot of work to do on the Bonus item. I already know I do it but need to stop myself better. Any suggestions on how to not impulsively butt into and correct peoples conversations?
I plead guilty. Now to put it into practice…
Something I read several years ago that has always stuck with me is “you know you are talking too much when your story gets interrupted and no one asks you to continue.” Stings a bit when it happens, but I have lived by it ever since, even if I really really want to finish telling my story – I won’t unless someone asks me to!
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Thanks for the insightful post.
“» I’ve heard women say they’d rather work for a male boss. What’s up with that?”
The question is intriguing. I will try to give my analysis. I think that I know what’s behind it. Though, I have to articulate my intuition.
Reblogged this on willowcreeksa and commented:
Wise counsel for talkers!
I LOVE this article! It’s hard being an extrovert without a mute switch 🙂
I am reminded of a phrase one of my supervisors taught me “Be Brief. Be Bright. Be Gone.” about how to give a presentation and it occurs to me that this concept holds true in other situations too. In this instance, I would say “Actively listen. Be brief and relevant. Use silence and questions.”
Darn, even when I’m writing, I can’t be short and sweet-argh!
Great read, indeed to communicate gives a different out look on interaction, and Growing in a whole, also i took heed to all, though “asking questions before making suggestions” hit home, its more heart felt… Thanks for the info
Thanks for this. I know many of these statements to be true but never put them together in one thought. Wish those I know who do this would adhere to them. I know I will. Thanks again.
I started following you recently after hearing you interviewed on a catalyst podcast. I have really enjoyed and appreciate your leadership insights, you are definitely providing valuable food for thought and helped me find both areas I need to work on and suggestions on how to make it better.
of all your posts and input so far, this one is one of the ones I most needed to hear/see.
Thanks so much for what you do!
Thanks Pat. The Catalyst people are awesome. I really respect Brad Lomenick. He rocks.
Welcome aboard! Thanks for the good word and best for the journey.
I talk a lot .. people say .. In my mind the more you speak in a meeting the more powerful you are .. silence is negative and a sign of weakness.. it is my style.. can’t change it ..