Have you ever gotten the feeling you said too much? Or maybe said it at the wrong time? Have you ever been interrupted by someone who was trying to help you make your point better?
I know in my life I have been guilty of dominating conversations, offering unsolicited or untimely advice, and saying words I later regretted. I have worked to change these behaviors in myself because I know how it feels to be the one who is talked over. If you’ll pardon my frankness here, it sucks.
It’s also uncomfortable to witness how this excessive talking behavior negatively affects others.
When attending yet another Zoom event, I recently observed a participant, asked to speak by the moderator, begin to share a story. A panelist jumped in and interrupted the participant mid-sentence. The participant got very frustrated and finally said in an exasperated tone, “Can I please just finish my story?” The panelist stopped speaking then, but later referred back to the earlier exchange, stating that he wasn’t interrupting the participant, he was educating her.
To me, the panelist came across as defensive – like he was feeling threatened that someone else might have something valuable to contribute about his area of expertise. He seemed rude and patronizing, and to be honest the exchange slightly damaged the authority that he had built up for me during the event… The sad thing is I think he really thought that he was being helpful. He just didn’t know how he was actually coming across. That’s what inspired me to write this blog.
There are so many really great times to speak up and interject and communicate openly, but that’s not what we are talking about today. Here are 7 reasons to keep your mouth closed (and maintain your conversational credibility)… :-I
It’s time to keep your mouth closed when…
- …it’s not your turn to talk
Sometimes we all have the urge to jump in and make a point when someone else is talking or telling a story, but ask yourself, is this point going to ADD benefit to the speaker or anyone listening? If not, it’s likely best to let the designated speaker finish their thought before interjecting your comment.
- …it’s better to breathe than respond right away
Ever had that experience where something someone else said triggered you? In those moments it’s much better to take a slow, cleansing breath through the nose to give you time to think before you respond. If you don’t, you could regret what you said at minimum. At worst, you could damage a relationship, which could cause heartbreak, cost you a sale, or deny you a great opportunity.
- …you are pausing for punctuation
Never underestimate the power of silence when making an important point. It gives the listener an extra moment to consider what you’ve said, but it also puts a natural emphasis on it and will leave a longer impression on them. But don’t overuse, or you may start to bore your audience.
- …you think you are adding or educating but may be interrupting
It’s hard to accept, but sometimes the result of the conversation is as important or more than how much we personally get to contribute.
- …you are about to say a filler word or habitual phrase that adds no meaning
The quickest way to avoid saying filler words or “non-substantive phrases” is to take a breath in through your nose as soon as you catch yourself about to say it, instead of saying the filler word/phrase. Then your mouth is free to say the next meaningful word you wanted to say.
- …you have just asked a question and someone is answering it
Are you one of those people who asks someone a question then jumps in to answer it? First of all, if you take the time to ask a question, be sure to mean it. Then you’ll want to listen to the answer. Otherwise, don’t ask a question.
- …you are riding your bike (so any insects nearby won’t fly into your mouth – HAHA) :O
How will your life be better once you learn when it’s appropriate to keep your mouth closed? First, you’ll become a better conversation partner and you’ll find that people will want to talk with you more. Second, you’ll be a better listener, which will make you more persuasive. Finally, you’ll be much less likely to annoy people. 🙂
If you can see how these tips will empower you to speak up more through saying less, let me show you how to make your voice mean business™ in a bigger way at home and in the office – online or off.
Click here to take me up on a free 15min chat and we can find out where you are and what your next best steps are as both a speaker and a leader.
Yours out loud,