I learned a new acronym today – WAIT. It stands for “Why Am I Talking?” I have it up on the bulletin board in my office to remind me to talk less and listen more during my coaching and other important conversations. I am naturally more of a thinker than a talker, but there are times when I get so excited, passionate or incensed about something that I talk way more than I listen. I may even talk over or interrupt the other person as I look to get my point across or share my Very Important Bit of Knowledge.
How many times have you left a meeting or conversation and realized that you dominated the discussion with your talking? You then wonder if the other person or persons noticed it too. Or maybe you question why they were all so quiet and had nothing to add. Well, they may have been waiting for you to take a breath! :)
I generally pride myself on my ability to actively listen, tap into the energy and emotions of another person, and really connect. I walk away with a lot – a new idea or approach, a better understanding of an issue, a totally new perspective on a situation, and/or a stronger tie to the other person. When I forget to listen and truly engage in conversation, I miss many of those things as the other person gets a lot less airtime.
Asking questions is a great way to ensure a balanced discussion. Not closed questions that elicit a “yes” or “no,” but open-ended questions, such as “How would you approach this issue?” or “What am I missing?” or “Why is that important to you?”
So, WAIT and listen!