I wish there were a better way to say this, but you have got to stop talking all the time. You know who you are. You’re the one who can answer a three word question like, “How are you?” with an essay longer than the Gettysburg address. You’re the one who takes the floor in a meeting and wipes it clean with the rest of us because you suck all the oxygen out of the room. It’s you – the person who is supposed to give your expert input on one aspect of the topic and you proceed to insert yourself into every other item on the agenda.
Sound bites, please
First of all: we can only take in 30 seconds of information at one time. After that our brains explode with chemicals, trying to fasten all your incoming bits onto what’s already stored. Give us time to associate, store and refresh the screen, will ya?
Second: what if you are wrong? It’s one thing to weigh in with bad information. We forgive you. It’s another thing when you’re a wave machine of misunderstanding, mistaken judgments, and malodorous opinions. You present us with a “now what?” problem, because in order to go on and be productive – we have to point out that you are wrong. Awkward.
Third: this is a conversation. A meeting. A phone call. That means more than one person is supposed to be speaking. If you want to deliver monologues, get yourself a one-person show and take it off Broadway (or at least off the premises).
Why the useless chatter? Why the recitation of minute detail? Why the deep dive into arcane facts and endless asides like you’re a tour guide and we’re seeing the Titanic for the first time? The feeling of drowning or at least being set adrift in a sea of words is deadly to your reputation, relationships and career.
Even if you are the smartest person in the room, consider it’s a hostile act to dominate others with your words.
Of late, something has happened with live interactions. I go to more and more meetings with people who have stored up and spew forth all the words they can’t fit into their tweets. Or is it the reality television effect, where we see boring people who lead meaningless lives being given the spotlight? Lamar Odom’s biggest complaint about Khloe Kardashian is that she never stops talking – and she got a show!
So, think before you speak. Spare us the detail. Cut to the chase. Give us the headlines. Wait to see if you get the “tell me more” signals before you tell us more.
And, I don’t really mean you – not only you. We are all guilty of this from time to time. And, like bad breath, it’s really hard for other people to tell us we’re offensive. So, consider this a public service message.
Now think how easy it will be to hit the “Like” or one of the “share” buttons, and put someone on notice that you’d love to say: shut up!
Nance Rosen is the author of Speak Up! & Succeed. She speaks to business audiences around the world and is a resource for press, including print, broadcast and online journalists and bloggers covering social media and careers. Read more at NanceRosenBlog. Twitter name: nancerosen