LIFE

If You Want To Make An Impact, Shut Your Mouth.

Choose words wisely and learn to listen.

22/01/2017 2:19 PM AEDT | Updated 23/01/2017 10:00 AM AEDT
Caiaimage/Sam Edwards
Learning when to keep quiet is an important skill.

When you're trying to get ahead at work and impress your colleagues, as well as anybody in ear shot, there's always the temptation to talk too much.

Sometimes we're so busy rushing from one activity to the next that our conversations are rushed too and we don't bother to stop and listen to the other person.

This is known as the classic 'dump and run' conversation, where one person talks but has no intention of listening to what the other person might want to say.

Careers expert Michelle Gibbings told The Huffington Post Australia the person doing all the talking might feel like they're a great communicator. But the person on the receiving end is left feeling bewildered.

"It's not how much you talk, but what you say and how you say it that matters when you want to have impact. When you are clear, considered and compelling your message is more readily heard," Gibbings said.

"Having a voice and the courage to share your views is important. Unfortunately, the message goes unheard when it isn't delivered at the right time, in the right way and when you are in the best frame of mind. So rather than thinking about talking more, think about how you speak with conviction and ensure you are making the most of the words you use."

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It sounds easy but for many of us keeping quiet can be a challenge.

It's believed the average person speaks more than 15,000 words a day. An urban myth states that women speak a lot more than men. However, a recent University of Arizona study found that there is not much difference between the genders when it comes to chatting.

But there's no research on how much of what we say is listened to or heard by the person or people it's intended for. Gibbings said people risk getting themselves into hot water if they say too much; especially if they're over-opinionated

"Never give up your voice or your right to express how you feel. You should feel free to stand up for your needs and what you believe in. It is never a good thing if by saying less you end up giving up those rights," Gibbings said.

"It's about being considered in what you say, and at the same time, deliberate and determined with when and how you speak. This means you are not just talking for the sake of talking. Instead you are conversing to understand and to hear others."

Collective Hub CEO Lisa Messenger told HuffPost Australia those quiet 'listening hours' are crucial when it comes to business and big ideas.

"For every hour I spend in big strategy meetings, I'd spend around three hours on my own, listening and thinking. I'm either listening to podcasts or watching documentaries or wandering into 'off the beaten tracks' into the suburbs," Messenger said.

Collective Hub
Collective Hub CEO Lisa Messenger believes it's important for employers to keep quiet and listen to their trusted managers.

"When we're travelling we do that all the time, we take ourselves to far flung places. So, when I'm home in Sydney I'll often go into back streets, in places I've never been before, and a lot of that time is almost in silence. It's all about soaking up new ideas and inspiration."

Messenger believes there's a good reason for the clichéd saying 'I get my best ideas in the shower.'

"This really can happen! I'd advise people to say less and realise that it's in the quiet times, or when we're listening to other people, that often our best ideas come. A digital consultant has been working with my management team, asking us to talk about our vision and purpose at work. I rolled my eyes and said, 'I talk about my vision and purpose about ten times a week!' But she encouraged me to stay quiet in those meetings and to listen."

"That process taught me that while I might be clear on the subject, it's important my managers can talk about their perception of the brand and where the brand is headed. So, it's very valuable for employers to keep quiet when you can, and keep your strong ideas to yourself while you sit and listen to your trusted team."

Michelle Gibbings advises people who find it difficult to keep their mouths shut, to take these steps:

  • Is it the right time of day or the right location for the conversation?
  • Is the other person in the right headspace (i.e. available and attentive)?
  • Are you in the right head space to deliver an effective message (i.e. focused and not stressed)?
  • Are you prepared (i.e. know what you want to say and how you want to deliver it)?
  • Do you have enough time to engage in the conversation?


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