Thursday, September 11, 2008

Recovering Overtalker

One of the worst things I think one can do, especially when making a connection with someone new, is to be an overtalker (yes, another Steveism). What's an overtalker? Someone that is so hell bent to say what it is they want to say that they simply fail to wait for the other person to finish speaking before blurting out whatever it is they have to say. They literally talk over the other person.

Can you say annoying party of one!

I just had this experience. I was speaking with someone that has a service that I believe could be a real fit for my business. This was the first time for us to speak via conference call and despite my own self-identified interest in this person's business, they spent more time pitching me than learning about me and my business. Not only is that critical error in the sales prospecting game (I already told them I was interested) but it's the kiss of death when the person doesn't even let me fully ask a question before jumping in and firing their verbal barage of this and thats. I liken this to verbal diarrea of the mouth and as you can imagine it isn't pretty!

Overtalking, especially when speaking to a prospective client, new connection or heck someone at the grocery store, is an instant turnoff. It shows a total lack of respect for the other person in the conversation and undermines your credibility. However I am amazed at how many people do it and think its perfectly acceptable even when clearly when it is annoying the other person.

I had a wonderful teacher in high school. Ms. Harris, that used to tell me to, "slow down and listen before opening my mouth." My excitement for a particular subject would cause me to put my two cents in at the most inappropriate time. I remember her telling me that just because I was excited or enthusiastic about something didn't mean certain rules of common courtesy didn't apply. She said what I was doing was quite simply rude. She suggested I quite literally shut up and listen. She said take a slow breath after someone has finished speaking before opening my mouth. She said that in being conscious of that breath, I would subconsciously be more in tune with what was just said and it would force me to actually listen; forcing me to have something more fruitful to say when I did open my mouth.

It was great advice and advice I have called upon many times in my career.

I guess to a degree I am a recovering overtalker. I found help by a teacher that cared enough to tell me I was being an idiot. Years later when I was in sales I got to see the cause and effect of overtalking as many a sales rep I knew (and some I hired) would make the kiss of death mistake in talking over a prospective client. Many didn't realize they were doing it but most did and shockingly didn't care. Was it any wonder why they didn't stick in sales very long?

So if you know yourself to be an overtalker know there is help. Ms. Harris' sound advice can work for you as it did me. In fact she would be so proud that I am still using her advice all these years later.

If you are an overtalker follow this simple advice.

Shut up - you will have time to talk you nucklehead!
Listen - God gave you one mouth and two ears for a reason. Conicidence? I think not!
Take a breath - yes quite literally take a breath before you say anything.
Be aware that you aren't the most important person in the room, on the phone or on the planet (Ms. Harris's words to me as a 10th grader exactly) - 'nuff said
Rinse and repeat.
Build better connections.

Ripple On!!!

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