In the throws of passion for an idea, you may find yourself in a monologue: Just one more point to convince him that approach X is by far the best!
You’re now on a roll…and your listener is shutting down fast.
If you’re the silent type, there’s no need to read on. A person of few words may not run into this situation. But if gifted with gab, you may realize too late (or not at all), that you are preaching from a mountaintop and the avalanche has been unleashed.
Mind you, there is nothing wrong with exercising your powers of persuasion. Most people need a clear reason to adopt a new course, and you may be the one to provide it for them. But are you going overboard? Are they listening?
When speaking to a group, your listeners’ silence and body language will give you clear answers to those questions:
- No one asks questions.
- You only hear an obligatory “uhum”.
- No one remembers your salient points.
- You lose your train of thought and no one knows where you left off.
- Your listeners’ eyes glaze over.
- They fidget.
Getting off the mountaintop starts with asking a question
Seeking another’s perspective is an elegant way to begin a genuine conversation, one where you can explore ideas that benefit everyone. Here are a few examples:
- What are your thoughts on project X?
- What appeals to you about project X?
- What puzzles you about project X?
- What has been your experience of project X so far?
For someone with the gift of gab, applying the brakes long enough to ask a question can be challenging, especially when passionate about an idea.
Asking a question however, opens the door for you to learn something new, and to challenge your assumptions about people or ideas.
I look forward to reading your comments on how you’ve stepped off the mountaintop to listen.