What do you do when you have to have a hard talk with someone?
Do your hands get sweaty? Does your mouth get dry? Does the speaking part of your brain go on vacation?
Maybe you try to limit the damage by controlling as much as you can. This happens in sales presentations that require you to adhere to a script. Telemarketers are notorious for this. They talk and talk and talk, hoping that the mere volume of persuasive words will win you over.
Managers do this when they bark out orders and accept no responses.
We do this in conversation when we finish other’s sentences and try to steer the focus onto ourselves.
What do we do to sabotage our conversational efforts?
Simply put, we talk too much and listen too little.
There are three hidden reasons we do this.
First, we talk too much because we think we know it all.
Sure, you’ve got an agenda. You need to get things done. You want as little resistance as possible. So, to squash it, you shut down conversations with a domineering attitude.
Second, we talk too much because we want to appear authoritative.
You’ve know more about something than most of the people you know. This is the curse of the expert. The temptation is to flaunt it. Any attempt to discredit you is an offense you won’t tolerate.
Third, we talk too much because honestly, we just don’t care what the other person thinks.
You’re busy. You don’t want to be bothered with other people’s problems. Besides, it’s possible you can’t do anything about them anyway. So you just wish others would leave you alone and let you have some peace.
Are you guilty of any of these from time to time?
If you are, here’s a proven cure for what ails you.
Dale Carnegie calls it “a safety valve for handling complaints.”
Here are 3 ways you can benefit by letting the other person do a great deal of the talking.
1. Resist the urge to interrupt.
Have you ever listened to someone go on and on and think to yourself, “I’ll bet she’s going to say this next.”
That’s when you start finishing her sentences.
Your motives are innocent enough. You think you know what she’s going to say so you go ahead and say it. You do it because you think she’ll think you’re brilliant and immediately agree with you.
But here’s the message it really sends.
When you interrupt, you communicate to the other person that what you have to say is more important than what she’s saying. You show her that you’re more interested in talking than listening. And you shout that you’re more important than she is.
Isn’t that how you feel when someone interrupts you?
2. Cultivate the power of presence.
People love to talk with you when they sense you are “in the moment”.
That sounds pretty awesome. But what on earth does it mean? You might know it when you see it, but what makes it happen?
There are 3 things anyone can do to be present in a conversation.
First, maintain eye contact. Roger Love, America’s top vocal coach, says that you should look them in the eye for 8 seconds, look down for 2 seconds, and then make eye contact again. That way you’re making a connection without it turning into a weird staring match.
Second, respond with sounds. This will let the other person know you’re still with them. It can be as simple as “hmm” and “uh-huh”. It indicates acknowledgement without the intrusion of breaking in with your own thoughts.
Third, smile and nod. Smiles bring warmth with them. You don’t have to agree with what the other person is saying. You’re just agreeing that she has the right to say it. Nod occasionally to let her know you hear her. Just don’t turn into a bobble head.
3. Ask questions instead of making assumptive statements.
The truth is you don’t know everything that is going on in someone’s mind. You haven’t lived her life. You haven’t had her experiences. By asking open-ended questions, you can gain valuable information you might not get any other way.
Here’s what happened when someone made assumptions for generations without question.
A woman wanted to cook a ham. Her husband asked her why she cut the end off. She replied, “That’s the way my mother always did it.”
“Why did she do that?”
“I don’t know.”
So they asked her.
“Well, that’s what my mother always did.”
The search continued to the woman’s grandmother. “Grandma, why do you cut the ham before you cook it?”
She said without batting an eye, “My cooking pan was too small. I had to cut the end off to fit the ham in there.”
Have you ever questioned why something was done? You might be surprised by the answer.
Here’s What’s in it For You
Do you need someone to coooperate with you? The more you let her talk, the more she’ll do to convince herself to help you.
Do you want someone to like you more? Let her talk as much as she wants about what she’s interested in and she’ll love you.
Do you want someone to follow you? Let her have her say in the matter and she’ll follow you because she wants to.
That’s 3 benefits of letting others do a lot of talking. Use what you’ve learned here and you’ll open up a world of opportunities!
How has listening more helped you? How can you apply these techniques the next time you have a challenging conversation? Feel free to comment!