Are You Talking When You Should be Listening?


For my work, I am often asked to introduce myself in conversation.

Before the intro, I almost always say, “I can tell you about myself in about 20 different ways. What would be most relevant?” or “What do you most want to know?”

The goal is to avoid going on and on as I watch my listener’s eyes glaze over, or see them check their watch.

Because watching someone lose interest in what you’re saying is a big confidence killer.

Too often we talk when we should be listening:

Interviews or other conversations where you need to introduce yourself
Presentations to a small group where you need to review or introduce a topic
So, so many conversations with direct reports…

We talk in these moments because we think we are supposed to KNOW, to be the authority or to somehow capture the listener’s attention with our brilliance.

This can be especially damaging with teams, because you don’t just lose their attention in that moment, you can dilute your credibility in the long term.

What you miss when you jump in and talk, or solve, is that people listen selectively. If you can take a moment to identify what they are most interested in, you can keep their attention.

If your team has gone off track, instead of telling them how to fix it, try, “Hey guys, this isn’t going the way we thought. Take me through what’s happened to this point.”

Or in a small meeting, instead of jumping in to present, try, “There’s a lot to cover here. If this is the best meeting of the week, what do you want to leave with?”

It’s a small shift, but a powerful one.

It doesn’t just help the conversation be more efficient, it helps you feel more confident.

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