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In one way this is good – I mean seeing people face to face is wonderful after so long being trapped behind a computer screen. However, it hasn’t taken me long to be reminded just how important it is to pay particular attention to those who don’t say much.
Increasingly I find myself eager to know what they would say: they just watch, and often with every meeting they get smarter, by saying nothing at all. They listen.
I have seen many leaders hurl words around the room like arrows. Those hoping for their next promotion do the same.
Ego can make you talk too much, but the person who is the loudest and talks the most in the meeting is not necessarily the smartest.
Of course, how we talk and listen are deeply influenced by our own personalities, cultural experiences and gender. It is sad but true that many men still talk over women. Women often feel they tread a thin line by making a point without coming across as too loud or aggressive. A woman who tells others what to do is often called bossy whereas to some men, giving orders can be one way of getting and keeping the high-status role. As a result, many women opt to stay silent rather than risk saying something wrong or being through of negatively.
Perhaps using as few words as possible to make your point, then knowing when to be quiet, is actually the skill we should all practise.
Those who listen should be encouraged to talk.
Those who tend to talk too much should be encouraged to listen.