I’ve always wished I talked a little bit less, sometimes a lot 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 talked less and listened more.
We all would.
Fortunately, I happen to be a pretty good talker, at least in the context of talking about ideas. Selling them, sure. After twenty plus years in advertising I’d better be.
But what I’m talking about here 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. Sort of like writing, an idea seems to get better (for me) while it is being expressed. It’s like I am pitching it to myself and creative directing it at the same time! Unfortunately, this can be perceived as rambling. And there are few things as annoying as a rambler.
What to do? First off, I like to remind my audience that I am indeed thinking out loud. I beg their pardon if you will. Then I listen or try to. Listening well is so important and yet so hard to do, especially if you’re an insecure creative person with a big ego, like me.
This leads me to another point. When I’m excited I tend to talk better than I listen. Many of us do. For example, when I’m in a big meeting, pitching an idea, it can be hard to turn off the verbal faucet. Even though I’ve improved a great deal over the years, I still wish I could sit on my tongue. Say my piece and shut up. Like Clint Eastwood.