In my family, the dinner table was a time to talk. Talk about the day. Talk about world events. Talk about any topic, without reservation. In school, I always raised my hand if I knew the answer. And at work, I’ve been lucky to have bosses and work in organizations that encouraged me to share my opinion. I like to talk, and I think my opinion counts in most situations.
The challenge is that I sometimes find it hard be quiet. But, I have learned the value of reserving my words when I:
- Don’t really have anything meaningful to say. Two ways this might manifest are when a) there is that awkward silence in a conversation or b) the topic or question is one I’m not fully informed about. I’m an extrovert, so I tend to talk to figure out what I think.
- Have asked a question and the person needs time to form an answer. Allowing a person to think before speaking is a discipline for me and probably a gift to the other person.
- Have more to learn from the other person. Staying in a curious mode is easier for me with clients than with colleagues and friends. Asking the next question can be the best way to advance the discussion.
If you are introverted, you are probably thinking of all the over-talkers in your meetings and blessing this post. If you are a talker with a strong opinion on most topics, take the time this week to pause before you launch into your idea or respond to another’s opinion or question.
Ask yourself: Is there really anything meaningful for me to say right now? And, allow the silence to fill the space.