Why Are You Talking?
In all of the conversations you’ve ever had, when have you learned more—when speaking, or when actively engaged in listening?
If you are anything like I am—like just about all of us are—there are times your attention is anything but undivided. Instead of listening, your conscious and subconscious mind is racing, working diligently to determine what you will say next. Most of us are chomping at the bit to say something to prove how clever we are or to elevate our position in some way rather than learning something by actually listening.
I’m not a big fan of acronyms—lord knows, in this industry, we’re drowning in them. That being said, I came across one the other day that really resonated with me. The acronym is W.A.I.T. which stands for “Why Am I talking?” and it’s meant to help us pause before responding in order to ensure that we have something worthwhile to contribute.
As soon as you have something to say, ask yourself what the intent of your message is. There are two reasons that what you have to share is worth sharing.
Is what you’re saying a fact or an opinion? If it is an opinion, identify it as such and determine whether or not it’s appropriate to bring it up in discussion. If it isn’t, remain silent. Or, at least, try. If it’s a fact, is it my fact to share? Is it relevant to what I’m doing or need to do? If the answer is yes, share it. If the answer is no, then head to the top of the diagram and ask whether or now what you’re about to contribute is relevant to what is being discussed.
If it is relevant, ask yourself whether or not it’s your turn to participate. If it is, go ahead. However, before you do that ask yourself if that contribution has already been made. If it has, abandon it.
If it isn’t relevant, It’s back to asking yourself: Why Am I Talking? It’s important to have awareness of whether or not you are talking with another individual or at them. If it is relevant or your fact or opinion is worth sharing, you need to assess whether or not it’s your time to share. If it is, ask yourself if the comment, in one way or another, has been made already. If it hasn’t, then go ahead and share, but remember to keep comments brief and on topic.