Thursday, June 12, 2008

How Much Do You Transmit vs. How Much Do You Receive?

When you are meeting with people, be cautious of how much you talk vs. how much you listen. Everyone likes to hear their own voice and share their opinions, so you must give people their chance to sing.

I am a talker, so I personally struggle with this one. When I was in 2nd grade I was constantly in trouble with the teacher for talking too much in class. (The funny thing is the teacher never told me that one can have a career as a professional speaker and be paid to talk. But talking to an audience is different than having one-on-one conversations). Elementary school teachers don't want kids talking out of turn, so many people learn to just sit quietly while others are talking. This makes it easy to have one way conversations, even though neither party desires this type of chat.

I come from a big Irish family where telling stories was a normal part of the family gatherings. As the youngest of 26 grandchildren, I honed the ability to spin a tale early at my grandparents table. I have fond memories of listening to my aunts, uncles and cousins make the whole crowd laugh with how they shared life's anecdotes.

Being able to speak is a valuable skill, but so is knowing when to listen.

A couple of years ago I met someone for the first time and talked too much during our meeting. This person was offended and told some mutual friends about his impressions of me..... in a very unfavorable light. I have a different memory of our time together, and thought he was very guarded (almost rude) and that he did not seem to want to talk with me. I thought him to be selfish in his demeanor and felt if I did not speak, we would just have stared at each other over our lattes.

I gained two valuable lessons from this:

1. If you are more of a talker, be conscious of asking questions and actively listening to other people.

2. If you are more introverted, be conscious of not letting another person dominate your conversation. Take charge.

While different people have different ways of communicating, and some are more verbose and others more quiet. Both parties need to take responsibility for a conversation and work in sync to be sure there is ample give and take. I have always been sad about the first impression I made on this person, and continue to work to improve in this area.

I openly share that I struggle with this because when we admit to our short-falls, we often find new ways to improve. I now try to make sure I ask at least three to five questions of people I talk with. Even if I talk more than I should, by inquiring about them, I bring them into the conversation and make myself listen.

Make sure you find a way to balance out how much you transmit to others and how much you receive from them in conversation. It is when the other person is talking that we learn the valuable nuggets of information that allow us to help them achieve their goals. When we help others, we win too. So you need to listen better in order to succeed.

Have A Great Day


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