As you know, I am an avid networker and meet many folks through different events. The outcome of these networking opportunities is usually a mixed bag. Sometimes the conversation is awesome but other times I find it to be a bit painful. The funny part is that some of the conversations I found painful are ones that others found enjoyable. Conversely, I am sure that some of the discussions I walked away from thinking were great were the ones the other person felt were agonizing.
The unpleasant conversations to me are the ones where the person just starts talking, and continues talking, barely pausing to take a breath. It’s like a verbal vomit, and many of us have fallen victim to this tendency, myself included! For some of us, it’s an ego thing or maybe we just like to hear ourselves talk. Either way, participating in a conversation and verbally throwing up during it rarely produces a positive outcome.
During a recent conversation with a friend, she noticed that I ask “why?” a lot. The reason I ask why is to make sure I understand what is being said, gain clarity and to learn. Sometimes the outcome of asking why is learning about a new topic but mostly I ask why to learn about the person I’m speaking with. I find listening more than speaking allows me the opportunity to learn more than I would if I dominate the conversation.
The other day I heard an acronym: W.A.I.T (Why Am I Talking). What a great acronym! Imagine how much could be discovered from listening to others rather than to yourself. Taking a pause and allowing someone to speak and share their thoughts is a great exercise in so many ways. Not only does it allow you to build better relationships, but it’s also key in understanding where people are during negotiations, sales meetings, and any other interpersonal exchange. The next time you find yourself in a conversation, I challenge you to take a breath, think: “W.A.I.T”, and let the other person contribute. Let me know what you learn.
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” – Epictetus
Have a great weekend.