Some speakers pay close attention to their audience, whether it be an auditorium full of people or one person, whereas others can talk their audience’s ear off and never know when to stop!
In every office, family or organization, there is someone who can’t tell when to be quiet. People listen out of politeness and courtesy, but secretly dread the wind bag’s arrival, and wish they could say, “Please, will you be quiet?”
If you want to be sure you never bore people to tears, and people are always willing to listen to you, try the following techniques:
A. Attention. Pay close attention to your listener(s). Look for body language and subtle cues that your audience has heard enough. When you see the signs of boredom or disinterest, it’s time to be quiet! Or you could try talking about something more interesting.
B. Be Aware. Monitor the time you spend talking and limit yourself to just a few minutes… even if you haven’t said everything you want to say. Chances are, people don’t want to hear it, anyway. And you’ll prevent yourself from lecturing or lapsing into a long soliloquy.
C. Switch. Make a point of giving people equal time. If you are accustomed to doing most of the talking, maybe it’s time for a change. Switch from talking to listening. A good rule of thumb is to spend as much time listening as you do talking, if not more!
Be sure your interchange with the other person goes both ways, and not just one way, with you doing all the talking. Listen and let the person speak his or her mind. Ask questions. Take time to reflect on what the other person says.
If you dominate conversations people will resent and avoid you.
You will win more friends and influence more people by being a good listener than a good talker. Good talkers are everywhere, but truly good listeners are fairly rare.
Avoid using flashy words and sentences… they don’t really impress people. Communicate simply and clearly in the language of your listener.
Recently a co-worker was telling a group of us about her harrowing weekend, where everything went wrong, and she went on and on, even though people started losing interest. Some of the cues she missed were people shifting in their chairs, yawning, scratching their heads, drinking from their cups frequently, staring off into space and excusing themselves for various reasons.
What was the mistake she made?
She was hyper-focused on her story. She missed the tell-tale signs people were becoming fatigued and wanted her to stop.
Good communicators are good listeners and observers. They discern cues and react accordingly. Knowing when to stop is a valuable and endearing trait that will help you succeed in any social setting.
Once you get the hang of it, your brain will shift attention between the message you are delivering and the ever-changing behavior of the audience. You must constantly monitor the listener’s behavior so you always know how it’s going, and you won’t miss all-important cues.
It will be easier to visually track your listener’s responses if you maintain good eye contact. Whatever you do, avoid becoming immersed in yourself or your story. Ask yourself what your listener wants… and be sensitive to his/her needs.
To make sure you never bore, observe your listener closely and know when to switch topics or be quiet — you’ll be a more effective communicator who knows how to make people happy.