Advertising
Advertising

How to Say More by Talking Less

How to Say More by Talking Less

He who does not know how to be silent will not know how to speak. – Ausonius

Talking less has always been a struggle for me. As a child, those close to me constantly chastised me for my need to stir the air with incessant chatter. As I grew older, their comments made me feel as though none of my words were worthy of being heard. Ironically, one of the people who made those comments the most is someone who, to this day, is incapable of sitting in silence with others. That individual must fill the void of silence with the most arbitrary (and oftentimes, annoying) nervous banter. To the point where I would wince with each word.

Talking less can bring you closer to those you love

When my daughter was very small, I was a single mother and worked multiple jobs to support us. Some days, my daily responsibilities left me both emotionally and physically exhausted, and I just wanted to sit in silence. (Two decades later, I still have those days.) My sweet little angel would sit beside me and chatter at a mile-a-minute pace, excitedly telling me about her day—or even what Barney The Dinosaur did to inspire her. Although I loved my alone time with her, and adored hearing her stories, there were some days that I was on overload. Since I knew how I was stung by people’s words when I was a child, I did not want to do the same to her; so instead of telling her to be quiet, I simply said, “Sweetheart, mommy’s ears are tired tonight.”

My vivacious little girl would then turn to me and say, “Okay mommy. We can just sit and ‘nuggle.” And with that, we sat in silence and cuddled on the couch or worked on a coloring book together. Even at a young age, my daughter was not intimidated by talking less.

Advertising

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. – Max Ehrmann

Talking less is how leaders are made

I am certainly guilty of being a talker. I am also guilty of not being the best listener. I recognize those traits in me, and do my best, on a daily basis, to be better balanced in those areas. I was always the person who only half listened, as I waited for my chance to throw in my two cents. From time to time, I still catch myself doing it, but have learned to recognize my anxious inner voice and cast it away.

One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. – Bryant H. McGill

Parents and supervisors are some of the biggest offenders of not recognizing the strength of talking less. I’m sure everyone has either done this, or experienced it. The person asks a question and, if the reply does not occur almost immediately, they begin feeding the answer to the other. Here are a couple examples:

Advertising

  • Parent to child: “Billy, why did you cry when grandpa touched your teddy bear?” Insert momentary pause. “Is it because you thought he hurt Mr. Bear? Or because you don’t like sharing? Is it because grandpa smells funny?”
  • Employer to staff: “I’d like to know why no one made contact with our supplier regarding the discrepancy in the order.” Insert five seconds of silence. “Did everyone think someone else was going to do it? Did you think that it was an insignificant loss? Do you just not care about this company’s success?”

In both of those examples, they should have asked the question and then sat silently, rather than feed their audience a selection of multiple-choice answers from which to choose.

A silent mind is a productive and healthy mind

Luminita Saviuc at Purpose Fairy wrote an article about the positive results that come with talking less. She confirms in The Wisdom of Silence: Learning to Talk Less and Say More that we have permission to just breathe. She reminds us that in the wake of our silence, we will not find ourselves in danger, but might actually experience clarity. When our mind is still, we can help our body purge itself of the stress of our day.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. – Plato

I want to be a wise woman. I am learning more and more how to be that wise woman.

Advertising

Fear not the silence around you

As technology takes a stronghold on us, we now replace our silence with the “noise” of turning to our mobile devices. I have witnessed many couples or groups in public, whose devices appear the moment there is a pause in conversation. The only sounds you hear are their fingers tapping on tiny keyboards. Why are we so afraid to be still?

Let’s not misunderstand this focus on talking less though—excited chatter, banter, and conversation have a place in all of our lives.

Talking less does not mean that there is nothing left to say

My husband and I carpool to work each day, and a couple years ago, the silence in the car was almost deafening for me after we had finished exchanging our anecdotes of our workday. I thought, “Have we run out of things to talk about? Do we know everything we know need to know about each other?”

I was panicking as I thought of all the years we talked endlessly about anything and everything while on our path of getting to know one another. Instead of sounding my emotional alarms, I should have been appreciative to simply share that space with him, and realize how comfortable we both are just being together—even in silence.

Advertising

Although, my genetic circuitry still pushes me to the chatter zone, as I grow, and learn, I do my best to circumvent those urges and let my mind and soul be still.

Featured photo credit: Shh/Amickman via flickr.com

More by this author

How to Say More by Talking Less Simple yet Important Ways to Win Over INFJs

Trending in Communication

1 How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up 2 How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late 3 7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer 4 If You Think You’re in an Unhappy Marriage, Remember These 5 Things 5 7 Practical Ways to Change Your Thinking and Change Your Life

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

Advertising

How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

Advertising

A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

Advertising

Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

Advertising

How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

Read Next