Maybe Talking Isn’t As Good as We Think

Are We Talking Too Much?

There's a reason we have two ears and one mouth. It's because we are meant to listen twice as much as we talk. This goes for talking and having conversations with our co-workers, our boss, our partner, our children and anyone else we come into contact with.

You might ask, "If everyone is doing twice as much listening as they are doing talking, there won't be much talking!" Don't worry, it will never happen--not in our life time at least. Most people LOVE TO TALK. And no, I don't mean that you cannot talk--of course you can talk--but when you are doing the talking you are putting yourself in the position of either:

  • Being vulnerable and letting people know all about you
  • Being the teacher who is imparting good information
  • Being the giver of advice (asked for or not)
  • Being a bit of a know it all
  • Giving feedback (good or bad)

Not Listening Means Too Much Talking

So maybe talking isn't as good as we think it is. Think about communications workshops you've attended. There is usually a good amount of time spent on active listening skills. We discuss the importance of listening, but mostly the down side of talking is never really discussed. So is there a downside?

I think so. For example, a meeting without an agenda means that people will start talking and talking and talking. Nobody really knows what the meeting is about, so in order to find some reason to be there--most people talk. "I think this....and I think that... what do you think?" If an agenda had been sent out, people would have had time to gather their thoughts and possibly done some research about the topic. They would be prepared. The talk would be thought out and more likely to be useful.

Talking Can Get Us Into Trouble

It's not that we shouldn't talk. I LOVE TALKING. The problem is when the talk is just talk; it loses it's power. For example brainstorming is great--but if it doesn't lead to anything happening--what's the point. I've seen companies spend literaly days having employees brainstorm ideas and create amazing action plans. And then?? NOTHING HAPPENS. The solutions cost too much time, money, or people. So... what's the point of using all that energy in talking, if there is no follow through? Answer: NONE!

Talking Must Lead to Follow Up

One of the biggest problems I come across when I travel the globe teaching communication courses, is follow up. People talking without follow up leads to frustration, upset and lost productivity. Collaboration goes out the window when teams cannot rely on people to follow up. If we say we are going to do something--we must do it. If we are too busy to take on one more project, then stop talking. Here's a way to stop yourself from doing too much talking:

  • Take a breath, 'is this necessary to say right now?'
  • Think, 'If I say this it will lead to negativity--so I will NOT SAY IT.'
  • Stop talking to yourself and listen to what is being said
  • Ask yourself, 'is what I am about to say, kind, necessary or wise?'
  • If you were the other person, would you like to hear what you are about to say?

Talking Sends Out Words of Positive or Negative Energy

What kind of a talker do you want to be? Think for a moment because this could be one of the most important questions you ask yourself. Do you want to send out positive words, or negative ones? Do you want people to leave the conversation feeling uplifted or running to their cube to hide? If you have read this far, You are the kind of person who wants to send out positive messages. You are a person who does follow up. So keep up the good work and make your talking be worth the listening.

About the Author

Val has written several books published by McGraw-Hill including: The Winner’s Attitude, Super Service 1st & 2nd editions, The Customer Service Manager’s Toolkit, OPEN Question Selling and Business Improv.

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