I was doing interviews for sales candidates last week and could tell in about three minutes if this was someone that I wanted to talk to again. Occasionally the first few minutes were going pretty well, and then the candidate made the fatal mistake of not shutting up. They knew the call was scheduled for ten minutes yet they took up six minutes answering one question. They had a total lack of awareness of and ability to control their nervous chatter.
They literally talked themselves out of a job.
“Part of learning not to lean is to get control of your dialogue. Most people talk too much, and what they do say is often just noise or irrelevant gibberish. One of the keys to silent power is to control your need to talk.” Stuart Wilde, Silent Power
Whether it is a new prospect meeting, new business presentation, or exploratory phone call, most of us talk too much. The emotional desire to impress, fear of looking dumb and being rejected can create nervous energy and a compulsive motor mouth. We fill all the spaces between words, forget to ask questions or listen to answers from the person across the table or on the other end of the phone line.
Sales is like dating. Sometimes we try too hard to impress. It’s ok to be charming, tell a story, and talk about ourselves a bit. But if we don’t know when to stop we lose other’s attention and our cute quirkiness quickly creeps into the “annoying” category.
People like to talk about themselves, share information with us and engage in a meaningful conversation, if we let them. The key is creating a tiny little window by stopping the mouth from moving. Stop talking and risk the awkward pause that may come from not filling up the space. Despite our fears, this actually gives us MORE control and the appearance of strength and attractiveness, not less.
A couple of reminders that I try to focus on every day...(to varying degrees of success and failure):
If we focus on being a little more aware of and disciplined about simply shutting up and risking momentary silence, the dynamic of the conversation or presentation will immediately change. The competition is probably doing a horrible job at this. These little things can be important differentiators and make us more attractive to others, in business and life in general.
Here's to a little more shutting up.
Recommended book: Silent Power by Stuart Wilde
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