Management Matters: Listen Now So You Can Be Listened to Later

Have you ever walked away from an interaction and wondered if you talked too much? Then you probably were talking too much!  Sometimes there are clues like the other person looks disinterested or bored; the other person keeps trying to get a word in; or the other person is looking around as if they are looking for the exit sign.

For some people, talking more than listening is a preferred style. For others, it’s a habit. And there are a few people for whom there are no comfortable alternatives other than to be the one to talk and talk and talk. To increase your listening ability and decrease the amount that you talk, try some of the following strategies:

  • Create 5 questions that you can ask of someone that elicits information and gets them to talk (They should be questions that can’t be answered by a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response). This can prevent you from thinking you need to be the one who always has to talk.
  • Practice short concise answers to questions like “How are you?”, or “How was your weekend?” This type of question is meant to be a polite acknowledgement of your presence and not intended as an invitation for you to launch into an overly detailed monologue about your life.
  • Topics like the weather, sports, traffic, pets, vacations, and home repairs are ways to engage in small talk and include others in conversation. These areas of conversation can keep you from dominating a discussion.
  • Practice talking for 25 words or less and then stopping. Being concise can allow for more give-and-take in a conversation.
  • You don’t have to add your two cents (or more) every time there is an interaction. Sometimes nodding, smiling, or simply adding “Me too,” “Really?”, or “That’s interesting,” is enough.

It is interesting to note that when you listen more, others become more eager to hear what you have to say!

Joni Daniels is Principal of Daniels & Associates, a management consulting practice that specializes in developing people in the areas of leadership and management, interpersonal effectiveness and efficiency, skill- building, and organizational development interventions. With over 30 years of experience, she is a sought after resource for Fortune 500 clients, professional organizations, higher education, media outlets and business publications. Joni can be reached at