Management Matters: Want Listeners? Stop Talking

If you have ever walked away from an interaction and wondered if you talked too much, you probably were talking too much! Sometimes there are clues: the other person looks disinterested, or bored, they keep trying to get a word in, or they might even look around for an opportunity to escape.

For some, talking more than listening is a preferred style of communication.They may think they have the responsibility to carry the conversation. Perhaps no one pays them attention so they want all of yours. Some may think they are the smartest person in the room and want it affirmed. And for others, it’s a habit.

There are those from whom there are no comfortable alternatives. They are uncomfortable with silence and have a difficult time focusing. If they are used to checking for emails, text messages and social media check-ins, slowing down and maintaining the focus on what someone else is saying is a not a habit they have an interest in.

If you want to increase your listening ability and decrease the amount that you talk, try some of the following strategies:

•     Create 5 questions that you can ask of someone that elicits information and gets them to talk (questions that can’t be answered by a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response are known as open-ended questions.). This can prevent you from thinking you need to be the one who always has to talk.

•     Practice short concise answers to questions like “How are you?,” or “How was your weekend?” This type of question is meant to be a polite acknowledgement of your presence and not an invitation for you to launch into an overly detailed monologue of your life.

•     Topics like the weather, sports, traffic, pets, vacations, and home repairs are ways to engage in small talk and include others in conversation. These areas of conversation can keep you from dominating a discussion.

•     Practice talking for 25 words or less and then stopping. Being concise can allow for more give-and-take in a conversation. Try this daily.

•     You don’t have to add your two cents (or more) every time there is an interaction. Sometimes nodding, smiling, or simply adding “Me too,” “Really?,” or “That’s interesting,” is enough. 

It is interesting to note that when you listen more, people become more eager to hear what you have to say! If you want people to listen, stop talking!

Joni Daniels is Principal of Daniels & Associates, a management training and development consulting practice that specializes in developing human resources in the areas of leadership and management training, interpersonal effectiveness and efficiency, skill- building, and organizational development interventions. With over 20 years of experience, she is a sought after resource for Fortune 500 clients, professional organizations, higher education, media outlets and business publications. Joni can be reached at

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