We live in a time where we think being the loudest person in the room is a celebrated virtue. In fact, it can work quite the opposite.
Oftentimes, I have had to pause and stop myself from saying the first thing that wants to come out of my mouth. I am learning how and when to speak and contribute. When I speak too much, I find I am not engaging others or I am putting too much attention on my ideas.
Yes, it’s good to engage with others. But be careful you understand why you are doing that. If it’s to get others attention and to be the smartest person in the room, ultimately this will subtly hurt your relationships. Competitiveness can happen or people can be annoyed you are hogging the stage.
What I find works well is focused listening. I find that when I am engaged the most in a conversation, I am absorbed in my listening. It’s more about others rather than me and what I have to say. I am hearing what each person is saying and what they are implying. This requires I follow the conversation and not get distracted. When you can give this level of presence with your listening, what you contribute when you do contribute, is more impactful and helpful to others. People can tell you are listening attentively and your words will now carry more weight and flow in the conversation.
Author’s story: A relative of mine doesn’t listen. I know it. I’ll share something and that relative nods their head, sometimes looks around, seems aloof. They are often just waiting for their turn to speak, catching the bare minimum of what I have to say in order for the conversation to flow. Over time I have picked up on this and it has left me feeling the relative doesn’t care much about what I have to say. It’s taught me the value of listening.