Monday, August 2, 2010

Blah, Blah, Blah

One of the many reasons why a coach is hired in regard to communications, is that they are are asked to work with an individual who is perceived as "long-winded".  It may show up in presentations, during meetings, or even in one-on-one conversations.

The most typical explanation for the behavior of the long-winded is that they crave the spotlight.  And indeed there are those who pontificate because they love nothing better than the sound of their own voice. 

However, I think most people who struggle with succinct verbal communications fall into less boorish categories.  See if you can recognize your favorite long-winded speaker (or maybe even yourself) in one of these:
  • They are detail oriented.  They value data and they assume that you do, too.  Their communications are prefaced by facts, dates, figures, definitions, and names that justify their final conclusion.   
  • They have a strong need to be understood.  These folks are best recognized by the fact that they say the same thing several different ways.  This means that it may take them 3 or 4 times longer to communicate their ideas while they use a variety of descriptions and examples to ensure that you comprehend what they are saying.
  • They don't see/hear/recognize social cues.  This is actually a mixed group.  Some who fall into this group simply don't have the skills to pick up on social cues such as body language, facial expression, or verbal cues that indicate that it's time to stop talking.  Others in this group may possess the ability, but they also require it.  For example, if you maintain a neutral expression as you listen, they will continue until you either nod, or smile, or provide some indication that they have been heard. 
  • They are isolated.  We all need connection and a media in which to express ourselves.  When individuals who work in an isolated area or group finally find an audience, their cup runneth over.
  • They are verbal thinkers.  Some individuals create as they communicate, their ideas just now coming together as they talk with you.  They often possess self-awareness of this and may even say "I'm thinking out loud as I say this...". 
Having an understanding of the source may help you in your work relations with the long-winded for those situations where you have influence.  It may help you to have patience in those situations where you don't. 

The reality about human communications, though, is that we need clarity in order to reach comprehension.  And in most cases, the more precise the message, the better your chances of being understood.   

'nuf said.

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