Stop the Rambling

A common problem I’m asked to address in my executive coaching work has to do with people who ramble. You may know the type—still talking at the 10-minute mark when asked a simple yes or no question. Or diving deep into the weeds and losing their high-level audience with too many details. They’re often the smartest person in the room and have difficulty editing their content on the fly. And so they ramble on, dragging us along as unwilling participants.

Here are two important concepts that have helped my coaches:

First, tell people the 30% they need to know, let them ask for the other 70%. We get ourselves into trouble when we assume everyone wants to know everything we know, you know? Figure out what the crucial info is, share that, then let them tell you if they need more. Try – “Did that answer your question?” Or “I have a lot more detail I could share with you, if you like. If not, I’ll move on.” Or “Let me stop here and see if you need me to clarify anything.”

Second, don’t be afraid of silence. Speakers often forget there is “lag time” in communication. When we speak, listeners are often a couple of words behind and in a constant state of catch-up. And more than that, they’re processing what they’re hearing. Your message is being run through their internal filters of experiences, agendas, opinions, even definitions. When you slow down your rate of speech and occasionally pause, it’s like a gift for the listener. This silence allows them to finish processing (Hmm…Can we get this done by Friday…how much will this cost …his idea will never work…do I have the right people available…) and they can stay right with you as you speak. But what do most speakers do? If they don’t get an immediate verbal response, they keep talking! A wiser strategy is to embrace the silence. It may seem like silence to you, but on the listener’s end, they’re working hard! So don’t rush it. Give others time to catch up and process, then move on. You’ll have quicker decisions and more efficient communication as a result.

Need to improve your communications? Contact us – we’ll listen!

© 2016 Jill Bremer