Resist your temptation to speak

How often have you found yourself sitting in a conference room or a meeting with only one thought crossing your mind, “God, when will he (the speaker) stop talking.” How often have you heard the speaker ask and answer the question himself? How often have you heard the speaker elaborately explain something with a deluge of personal experiences, when it has been long understood or already known by the audience?

These are the times when you bless your smart phone that opens vistas to the world away from the speaker; especially if stepping out of the room is not an option.

On the other hand ask the speaker if his audience was engaged and if they were finding value in the discussion; you would be surprised by his response. His perspective invariably would be on the other end of the continuum.

Corporate world gives ample opportunities to senior leaders to speak. Without realizing, these senior leaders give into the temptation to talk beyond what’s needed; genuinely believing that they are adding value to others. While the poor captive audience uncomfortably shift in their chairs.

Why do intelligent and worldly wise leaders fall into this trap? I have also been guilty of this mistake. As I reflect on my own mistakes, following beliefs emerge as possible reasons:

  • I know much more than others
  • People would immensely benefit by listening to my rich experiences
  • People are ever eager to listen and learn from me
  • And they are interested in listening to my experiences, again and again, unmindful of the fact that the audience are also adults and bring their own rich experience

Caught in these beliefs, leaders tend to completely ignore the non-verbal cues from the audience. And go on and on and on… When he is done, takes pride in huge round of applause; unfortunately mistaking it as appreciation; while in reality it’s only an expression of relief by the audience.

So, what’s the learning? Before stepping into a discussion or speech, remember few things:

  • If you have experience, others have experience too. Engage them in a true discussion
  • People have only a small finite ability to listen. Once the threshold is crossed, you are only speaking to bodies, their minds are somewhere else
  • True power of communication is leaving people asking for more

 Speech is momentary, silence is eternal

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