Dear Dan: How Can I Shut My Trap
I lead a team of high capacity leaders and we all serve a recovering benevolent dictator, who himself is a dynamic catalyst and the reason for our organization’s growth.
Anyway, I find myself desiring to squash “bad” ideas that come from the team.
I try to hold back dismissal but I believe the idea is going to hit a brick wall or die on the vine.
So, because our team is so open with each other they recognize (I have shared) my “interruptive” nature. They’ve learned to say, “I need to finish.”
But I want to end this behavior. Do you have tips or links to past blogs on how I can just shut my trap and stop interrupting when I don’t like what I am hearing?
I seem to mount a thousand objections before hearing a complete story.
It seems like you’re on the path to shutting your trap. Keep going!
I wonder if keeping notes would help? Try writing down your thoughts before you speak. Recording your thoughts might let your brain know that you’re paying attention.
You might excuse yourself from meetings. Set the agenda, ask someone else to run the meeting, and leave. Return at the end to learn the decisions and ask how you can help.
How about a ‘shut your trap’ timer? After you start the discussion, set a timer for three minutes. All you can do is nod and smile.
If you must open your trap, ask two questions before making any statements.
- Tell me more.
- What other options come to mind?
Could you assign other team members to present ideas to the CEO?
Bonus: Slow your brain by giving two reasons how something might work, before explaining why it won’t.
You have my best,
What suggestions do you have for Constantly Interrupting?
Taking a sip of water and holding it in the mouth until its time to speak could be an idea. The only problem is that instead of interrupting others while they speak, he will have to interrupt himself by having to frequently visit the rest room.
I used to have a terrible habit of interrupting when others were speaking. I would get so excited about something, that I just could not seem to help blurting out the thought or idea the instant that I had it. Though I did not mean to do it, it was nonetheless happening and very rude. Nobody ever mentioned it, but in working on my self-awareness and listening skills, I recognized it in myself. I took a small sticky note, wrote “SHHHH” and taped it to my computer monitor. When I would meet with my staff, my supervisor, or anyone who popped into my office, it was right in front of my face. Eventually, waiting my turn to speak became a habit. I still catch myself now and then, and though it has been several years since that time, I still see that pale yellow reminder in my mind.
As a supervisor, I judge the success of meetings by the amount of time I speak compared to the amount of time others on my staff speak. The more they speak, the more successful my meetings are.
Wow, awesome subject and advice. Thanks gentleman!
I like to focus on making sure everyone’s voice is heard before mine. If I get the urge to speak, I simply say, “Hassan, I would like to hear what you have to say about this.” It helps me fight the urge by empowering others
Sometimes I write ‘no’ in my notebook when I desperately want to speak but know I shouldn’t. Just writing it and smiling in amusement goes a long way. Actually, having a notebook to jolt down thoughts is helpful so that I don’t interrupt others.
I just read the book “5 Voices, How to Communicate Effectively with Everyone You Lead.”
I think it really supports this conversation as we recognize all the voices on our team. It helps define “rules of engagement” for each voice, as well as how to mature in our own voice.
I truly appreciate this post!
I still struggle with this myself. I have noticed that it happens when I am thinking about what I am going to say next more then listening to what is being said. I have cut way back on this by making myself pay attention and focus on the person talking. If I cant keep from thinking about what the person said I write my idea down and then refocused on the person talking. If I get it off my mind I can process what is being said. Good post and very timely.
Another practice to get into is asking yourself three questions before speaking.
1) Does it need to be said?
2) Does it need to be said by me?
3) Does it need to be said right now?
I can’t recall where I first heard this, but I share this with people that “overcontribute” in a meeting or training class.