Creative Leadership

When To Stop Talking

For some reason, I’ve been meeting a lot of people who don’t know when it’s time to stop talking.  Most of the time they’re meeting me after I teach, or it’s an interview, and I know they mean well, but it’s driving me nuts.  Obviously, they’re nervous, and most people talk when they’re nervous.  Plus, I think they feel an obligation to pitch themselves and simply don’t know when to stop.  I keep looking for openings to jump in and change the subject or bring the conversation to a halt, but with some folks, that’s nearly impossible.  So here’s my advice:

No matter how important the meeting, or nervous you might be, take a deep breath. 

Think “soundbites.”  You’re not having a deep, intellectual conversation here, you’re sharing your project, your idea, or your resume with someone.  Allow them space to comment.  Zip it occasionally and check their reaction.  Besides, you’ll learn more from listening to them, so allow time for that to happen.

I know there’s a little voice in your head telling you that if you stop talking, they’ll walk away.  But you can be sure that if you DON’T stop talking, they’ll stop listening.  Even if they continue nodding and smiling.

Never forget that conversation is a two-way experience.

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  1. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every man I meet is in some way my superior.” A Russian Martial Artist friend of mine says, “Our goal is to do permanent ego damage to ourselves.” How can I salute the God in you, if all I do is broadcast? Little anti-christs need to be worshipped and recognized, little Christs need to salute the Christ they see each other! I like to ask people who shine in Christ, “How did you get to such a high level of manifesting Christ?”

  2. Also, if you’ve noticed, most people don’t know how to listen at all. People in my office are eager to come to me and talk and tell me stories, ask questions and the like, but the moment I want to say something, I notice a very small shift in their body language saying, ‘I’m not here to listen to you, I’m here to be listened to…’
    Also, I have observe other people in my office engage in conversations as well, and I can notice that one person is talking a lot and the other person clearly displays an expression, or body language of ‘I don’t like to listen… I want to be listened to…’ So far, my observations in my office hold true, no matter who is the one who is talking at the time.
    This is also true in family members. So, if sometimes I am not in the mood to engage in conversations or any kind of talk because I’m too busy editing, when someone comes to ask me something, it is amazing to see how people leave you right away when you start giving them a very long, detailed and technical explanation of whatever they inquiry was. They leave you as soon as they came. It works every time!!

  3. Good insights Phil… I have an extensive reply and comment, but would rather embellish this dialogue with the superior gift of a listening ear and attentive mind and allow you to continue… 😉

  4. Thanks for another slice of humble pie. We met at an event a little over one year ago. I am now grateful that we kept our “hello” to approximately :30 seconds. I deliberately kept it short to be an appetizer for the day, if it arrives, that you might want to ask me a bunch of questions. 

  5. Communication rises and falls on body language. What is said, what isn’t said and reading between the lines. You can only do that with your mouth shut and that requires you to listen. Nothing is worse than being held hostage by someone who won’t stop talking… it has a feeling of torture.

  6. Yeah Phil, but your inward personality is abrupt and less patient, so maybe you should look in the mirror and be more forgiving since you are seeking to be a “Christian” media personality.

    1. Actually, it has nothing to do with being “abrupt or less patient.”  It’s about listening to other people and learning from their ideas.  Whenever you engage with a person to pitch your project, interview for a job, or other reasons, you’d be foolish not to gain from their experience.  Trust me, not that many people want to hear us talk…  🙂

      1.  Great article!  I have a close mutual friend Phil that knows when he see’s me “captured” by certain individuals, to call my cell and rescue me from this verbal torture.

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