Shut Up. Why talking too much can damage your career by Steve Blakeman

“You have two ears and one mouth. You should use them in that ratio”. My old boss, the late (great) Ray Sale often reminded a younger (and considerably more verbose) version of myself of this on a fairly regular basis.

Ray’s sagely advice was brought flooding back to me this week when I saw this picture on LinkedIn…


The WAIT (Why Am I Talking?) mnemonic was remarkably resonant with a considerable number of LinkedIn users given the high viewing figures, likes and shares I received for the posting. So I decided to do a little more research into the subject to see whether people agree with me that we simply talk too much in business. And I also pondered if being overly garrulous could be detrimental to our careers. What I discovered was actually quite telling…

I’m not sure where the common convention started but it seems to be quite widely accepted that the people who are the most effusive in meetings or on conference calls are considered to be the most influential. Admit it, as a consequence of this unwritten rule we have all been guilty of saying something just so that our voice is heard irrespective of whether we actually had something vital to say. Mea culpa.


So why should it be that talking in business is more revered than listening? Well if you read the research into the matter, it seems that the notion is actually rather superfluous…

In his book ‘Just Listen’ the author, Dr Mark Goulston, outlines his rather handy Traffic Light Rule. Basically you are on ‘green’ for the first 20 seconds of anything you have to say. Then you need to watch for the classic signs of boredom from the listener (e.g. fidgeting, looking at their phone, eyes glazing over, snoring etc.). If you don’t detect any of these signs then for the next 20 seconds, you are on ‘amber’ – you can continue but be warned that you are pushing your luck. Beyond 40 seconds? You are on ‘red’ – so just stop. The problem though is that most of us have no idea how long 40 seconds actually is when we are gas-bagging. Our ability for time recognition is rendered redundant by the physiological release of dopamine into the brain which provides a natural high and encourages us to continue. Goulston suggests that to combat the urge to be voluble we should practice timing ourselves when talking to ensure that we don’t succumb to the desire to filibuster. His basic advice isn’t rocket science:

“You need to talk less and listen more”

Read the entire article here:

More on Steve Blakeman


His LinkedIn profile:

Persistence in Leadership

Great leaders are persistent. They persevere through trials and develop the ability to weather tough storms. Calvin Coolidge, 30th US President, summed it up nicely:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

Read the rest here:


The Appreciation Circle by Jim Johnson

Yesterday in my team’s leadership meeting, I had them experience the Appreciation Circle.  We followed these simple instructions:

1. Have the team sit in a circle so you can each see each other face-to-face.
2. The leader starts by choosing 1 person and saying something specific about why they appreciate them. 
a. “I appreciate Bobby because…”
3. Then the person that was appreciated picks someone else and does the same thing.
4. No one can be appreciated twice during this exercise.
5. The leader will be appreciated last.

There were only 5 of us in the conference room so this didn’t take long. I paid close attention to the body language of my leaders as we went through this exercise.
I saw and heard:

• Lots of smiles
• Laughter
• Eye contact
• Heads nodding in agreement with other’s comments
• Sincerity in their voices

After we finished, I shared with them my past experiences in conducting an Appreciation Circle and how it, in many instances, changed the dynamic of my team. We then discussed the following benefits of doing this with their own teams:


• It focuses on the positive.
• Chances are others will remark “oh, I feel the same way about _____, too!” 
• We may think our teams feel appreciated, but this exercise verbalizes it from many points of view.
• This doesn’t negate any personal improvements that need to be made by a team member. 
• This can bring your team closer together. 

My leaders and I had a very positive, encouraging session yesterday.  This exercise took about 15 minutes.  I then talked about the 2017 budget process that I was implementing.  We all left smiling.  I heard them say they would be trying this with their teams. 

Mission accomplished.


7 Simple Ways to Say ‘Thank You’ to Your Team by Lee Colan


Research by former Gallup chairman the late Donald Clifton revealed that work groups with at least a 3-to-1 ratio of positive to negative interactions were significantly more productive than those having less than a 3-to-1 ratio. In other words, more productive teams had at least three positive interactions for every one negative interaction. By the way, the same study showed the bar was set even higher for more successful marriages–the key ratio was 5 to 1. Showing your appreciation is certainly a positive interaction and is a simple way to boost your ratio.

Consider tracking your ratio for a week to gauge how well you are appreciating your team. Look for opportunities to acknowledge your team’s results and positive progress. This is basic psychology–reinforce those behaviors that you want to see more frequently. Catch them doing something right, and do it often. If you look for ways team members are doing something right, opportunities to reinforce the team will be plentiful. The key is to be sincere and specific. In other words, don’t fall into the trap of blurting out the robotic “Good job.” Take the time to thoughtfully explain why you appreciated the specific action taken by a team member.

For example, you might say, “Kayla, I really appreciate the way you quickly resolved that customer issue without adding more time or cost to our delivery schedule. That makes a big difference for the company.” Demonstrating appreciation for your team members and their efforts can put them on the fast track to inspired performance.

There should be plenty of opportunities, since a Harris poll found that 65 percent of the workers reported receiving no recognition for good work in the past year! That’s a pretty low bar. So don’t worry about recognizing your team too much. In fact, there are no documented studies of any team ever feeling overappreciated.

Here are seven simple ways to demonstrate your appreciation for your team:

1. Say “thank you”–an all-too-obvious, yet highly underused form of appreciation.
2. Go old school and write a card or note to a team member expressing why you appreciate him or her.
3. Allow your team to present their work to your boss. This is a great way to engage your team, and it also shows your boss what kind of leader you are.

Read the entire article here: