Pachter's Pointers:
Business Etiquette Tips & Career Suggestions


Do You Talk Too Much? Let Me Count The Ways!

You talk too much, You worry me to death, You talk too much, You even worry my pet…

The above lyrics from the song You Talk Too Much by Joe Jones sum up a communication distraction that many people have in the workplace.

A colleague recently asked me for suggestions for one of her coaching clients who talked too much, and, as a result, limited her opportunities for advancement. The following suggestions were helpful for my colleague. They may also help you or someone you know.

1. Identify how the over-talking occurs. You can’t eliminate what you don‘t know you are doing. Here are four possibilities:

Giving too much information. During a meeting a supervisor was asked where he had bought his watch. Instead of saying, “At a great local store when I was on vacation in San Francisco,” he went into a five-minute monologue about searching six different stores to find the perfect watch. If people need more detail, they will ask you.

Using too many words. Instead of “Let’s get together next week,” the person will say, “I was just thinking that you know, if you have some time and are not busy, we ought to get together next week.” Say what you need to say in as few words as necessary.

Repeating what someone said in different words. Some repetition can confirm to the other person that you have heard what he or she has said. But in a group meeting too much repeating can be viewed as one-upmanship—the need to let everyone know you also knew that information.

Talking when you shouldn’t. This includes whispering to a co-worker during a presentation or not reading the cues from meeting participants that no more discussion is needed.

2. Ask a trusted colleague or coach to help. This person can point out when you are talking too much

3. Use your voicemail system. Listen to how you describe something on the messages you leave for others. If you are too wordy, redo the message.

4. Check in with yourself. Before you add your comments during a meeting, ask yourself, “Do I really need to say this?”

5. Be creative. Come up with a solution that works for you. One manager put the initials KIS at the top of his papers to remind him to Keep It Short when he speaks at meetings.

Additional information on communication can be found in my book When The Little Things Count…And They Always Count.

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