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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.