I wish I talked a little less. There’s something masculine and right about a man of few words. And given my propensity to self-disclose and/or take another person’s inventory, I’m pretty sure I’d be a better man if I spoke less and listened more.
Likely we all would.
Fortunately, I happen to be a halfway decent speaker, at least in the context of talking about ideas. Pitching them and so on. After twenty plus years in advertising I’d better be.
A tangent of talking too much is “thinking out loud.” Speaking about an idea while you’re forming it, if that makes sense. I can get caught up in an idea or rather an idea gets caught up in me. I need to untangle it. Let it out, knots and all.
Like writing, an idea seems to get better (for me) while it is being conjured… expressed. It’s like I’m pitching the idea (to myself) and editing it at the same time. Unfortunately, this means wrong turns and a fair amount of backtracking. It can also be perceived as rambling. And there are few things as annoying as a rambler.
What to do? Well, sometimes I like to remind my audience that I am indeed thinking out loud. Begging their pardon if you will. Then I shut up and listen. Try to anyway. Listening is so important and yet so hard to do, especially if you’re an insecure creative person with a big ego, like me.
When I’m excited or nervous I tend to talk more than listen. Many of us experience that. I’ve seen it in others. Especially in a big meeting. Or facing an audience. For me, I’m pretty sure the tendency for oral extremis harkens back to the concrete schoolyards in Chicago. Being a pudgy white nerd, I was seemingly always in the crosshairs of tougher, faster hombres. Therefore, I leaned on my wits to get out of ass-kickings and the like. For me talking a good game became a matter of self-preservation. Bullies like having a wiseass around.
Given my acute awareness of these defects, and my sensitivity to them, I’ve gotten better at self-censoring and paying attention to others. Still, there are times I wish I would just shut up.