I love to talk and it’s quite easy for me, especially when I am passionate about a topic, to dominate a conversation.
It took the wise words of a former manager to point out that my habit of “holding court” was not only overshadowing other colleagues and deterring them from contributing to meetings, but any ideas I may have been putting across was getting lost in a melee of words.
Being a leader, it’s not all about you and the real value comes from talking less and listening more. It’s about making your messages more impactful and being inclusive and seeing the value of everyone’s thoughts and ideas. I had overlooked that.
I was lucky to have received this feedback and it stuck with me. Now, I make a conscious effort to take a step back, be quiet and listen to others. I try to be patient and not rush to make my point and don’t feel the need to talk for the sake of it. I wouldn’t say I have this balance right 100% of the time. The sometimes-uncomfortable silence at the beginning of a virtual meeting can be a trigger and I feel the need to fill the silence, but I am trying.
I found this article by Anne Sugar in Harvard Business Review really resonated with me. Anne outlines some practical tips for sharing the floor – by firstly reflecting on how much you might be talking, to deploying tactics such as consciously building in pauses or compressing your thoughts to ensure what you are saying is necessary and impactful.
While it’s important to share your point of view, it’s critical to know when and how and to remember that you aren’t the only person with an idea or opinion so make sure you allow others to voice theirs.