W.A.I.T. – Why Am I Talking? Tips to Increase Your Influence Through Effective Communication

As a general rule we all talk too much and don’t listen enough! If your first thought is that this is not about you, keep reading, it’s especially about you (and me).

Now, I am a professional speaker; it is my job to speak. But that is when I am on stage. What I am talking about here is when we are with others in a one-on-one or one-on-small group environment. It is so tempting to jump in and hijack the conversation. Whether you are in sales or in parenting, speaking less and listening more is ALWAYS good. BTW, if you are in parenting you are especially in sales.

Master Communicator? Me?

I was once at a business reception and I was speaking with a colleague I didn’t know that well. I asked three questions about their professional history, what they loved about their role in the organization and what they valued most in their work and personal life. I was interested in learning more about them and I enjoyed the conversation very much. As we parted ways the colleague told me I was a great communicator. But wait, they did all the talking!

I would like to provide some tips on how you can perceived as a master communicator when others are doing the talking.

Why Am I Talking (W.A.I.T.)?

People care about three things, themselves, their victories and their challenges. If you are talking about yourself, you are not talking about something in the top three of what they care about. The truly outstanding communicators among us have figured this out and direct their conversations accordingly.

Dare to be Dumb – do you really know everything there is to know about everything? I didn’t think so. Why not ask questions even though you think you already know the answer. It is in listening to the answers others provide where the learning occurs. Learning about the subject, perhaps, but more importantly learning about how they think and feel about the subject.

Master the Pause – it is so tempting to wait for the other person to take breath and mistake that as our invitation to dive in. When someone stops talking, master the pause. Allow a few seconds to elapse to ensure they have completely finished their thought. It is amazingly refreshing to be speaking with someone that is not trying to jump in all the time. Be that person.

Don’t top someone’s story – I am very guilty of this one. I am a highly experienced global traveler. I have been to 40+ countries and I have a ton of stories and experience. When someone starts talking about some travel experience they have had it is really easy for me to say, “That’s nothing compared to the time I…..” To increase my influence with others I am working hard to say, “That must have been harrowing, tell me more.” Let others have their story. If they ask you about yours, got for it, but in most cases they don’t care as much about your experience as they do about telling you their experience.

Ask yourself these W.A.I.T. questions:

1.  Is this the time to share? Is what I want to share on topic? Don’t divert the conversation away from what they are speaking about just because, “that reminds me of a time when…”

2. Is it my turn to share? See item #2 above. Are you mastering the pause?

3. Is what I want to share going to add to or subtract from what they are sharing? The temptation here is to divert the conversation from them to you. Item #3 above should keep you grounded here. If you do interject, be concise. Add value and then shut up.

How you communicate with others had an enormous impact on how much influence you have with others. Improve your communication, improve your results by increasing your influence.

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