Socially, I’m a talker. I love stories and everytime I hear someone tell a story it reminds of one I want to share. I think of the stories I share as gifts.
Professionally, I’m a listener. And even though I give speeches and tell stories those are seldom the most important elements of an engagement.
I was interviewing a lady the other day and I repeated to her what I had heard her say. She said, “You make me sound so smart.” My response was, “You are smart. You just havn’t had the opportunity to reflect on our topic before this conversation and so you havn’t ordered your thinking, yet.”
Many people, myself included, spend a lot of time in our heads bouncing from point to point, working through topics of importance, but not reflecting out loud.
It’s amazing how smooth transitions go in our head and then we start talking out loud and the transitions are seldom as smooth out loud as they’d been in your head.
Let me share a teachnique I’ve learned. Find someone safe with whom to talk your ideas through. If you cannot find someone safe then talk out loud to yourself.
The simple act of actually hearing yourself will help you not only organize and prioritize your thinking, it will help you more effectively communicate them when it matters.
While you’re at it, look for opportunities to listen to others. Not just waiting for your turn to talk, but giving the gift of simply listening. You may not even need to share a story of your own in return.
The gift of listening may be, in and of itself, just what’s most desired.