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:

5 Habits of Highly Effective Communicators by Bella Beth Cooper


Have you ever walked away from talking with someone that you’ve just met and thought to yourself “Wow, this was one of the best conversations I’ve ever had!”? I’ve recently had one of those and at first I quite selfishly concluded “Wow, I’m a great communicator”. But then I realized, hang on a second, I think this other person was the reason I felt so good about this talk, how did he do that?

I started to think about a few of the things this person did, that made me feel so comfortable and open to speak with him. In usual Buffer blog manner, I thought of finding some real science to back up some of the simple habits this newly found friend had so ingrained when talking with me.

So what I’ve come up with are 5 of the most effective habits famous communicators have used for hundreds of years. Recently some new science studies have backed up their claims and I feel it makes for a very compelling case to overhaul my own communication efforts and maybe it’s some inspiration for you too!

Let’s dig in:

1. They listen first – then focus on being Active and Constructive
The word conversation generally brings to mind talking—at least for me. However, if you’ve ever seen two people trying to talk to each other at the same time, you’ll know that listening is just as important. In fact, listening is half of a successful conversation—you take turns to talk, and everyone feels heard. This is great communication.

Read the rest here:

How to Communicate Effectively with “Annoying” Employees


by Vanessa Van Edwards

We all have those people in our life who drive us up a wall. They make choices we don’t understand and they do things that seem nonsensical. More importantly, they are annoying because they are not like us. We cannot comprehend what leads them to act the way they do or what drives their seemingly bizarre decisions.

For entrepreneurs and business leaders, effective leadership is about learning how to deal with all types of personalities — even the annoying ones. If we could better understand people’s “annoying” choices and behaviors — motivated by where they’re coming from or what they value – they would become far less annoying.

The truth is, everyone has their own Value Language – i.e., what drives someone to make life choices, what gets them up in the morning and informs their goals and actions — and most misunderstandings stem from simple differences in Value Languages. To understand “annoying” people, we have to first learn where they are coming from and what motivates them. Then, you can appeal to what they value, instead of what you value.

I have narrowed people’s Value Languages into 10 different categories. Use these to identify (and better communicate) with the “annoying” people in your office:

Image. The first Value Language describes people who value image, beauty or aesthetic appearance above all else. These people spend huge amounts of time and money on their appearance either through clothes, plastic surgery or beauty regimes. In the office, they tend to annoy us by being late after spending too much time getting ready and making hires based on presentation rather than experience. They consistently pick romantic partners based on appearance rather than personality, and tend to be vain.

Money. Money is one of the most powerful motivators. Those who subscribe to this Value Language don’t care how they make money or the consequences of obtaining it; they just want more of it. It’s not just white-collar criminals; it’s also those who annoy us by either being cheapskates in office holiday gift exchange or “gold diggers” constantly looking for free meals.

Power. Authority, dominance and gaining more power are the biggest drivers for these people. Those who value power like to be able to influence or persuade others to do what they desire. They annoy us by trying to assert dominance in inappropriate situations (commandeering an office potluck), make power-hungry moves (taking credit for a work project they did not do) or throwing their company title in your face.

Fame. Fame, popularity, legacy and notoriety are the big motivators here. We are seeing a generation of kids who speak Value Language #4 as they upload videos of themselves singing, post constantly on Facebook and audition for reality shows. During office meetings, they annoy us by always seeking the spotlight when the boss comes in, wanting to be the center of attention during presentations and doing anything to get accolades for their work.

Proximity to the Ideal. This one is tricky, but very important. Some people value being as close as possible to what they deem an ideal. For some, this might mean playing the perfect “housewife” with 2.5 kids, a golden retriever, a white picket fence and lots of time for bake sales. Sometimes, people-pleasers and perfectionists fall into this category because they are obsessed with the “ideal” and having everyone like them and what they do. In the office, ideal-seeking workers put an extreme amount of pressure on themselves to seem like they have everything under control. They never ask for help and they never turn down work projects. They are the least communicative of the Value Language types, which can be detrimental to office teamwork.

Knowledge. People who speak Language #6 are most commonly called know-it-alls; they always have an opinion and an obscure news article they once read to back it up. They often only value others who are “in the know.” They annoy us by never letting anyone else have an opinion during meetings, arguing for fun and pompously telling you about all of the books on their bedside table during lunch break.

Read the rest here:

Lucky Leaders


by Kevin Eikenberry

Oftentimes people look at others who appear to have gained stature or success and explain their results as “luck.” While leaders are rarely as popular or visible as rock or movie stars, more than once I’ve heard people talk about a leaders as being lucky.

They started at the right company . . . went to the right school . . . met the right people . . . the list goes on.

Here’s my perspective: luck is loser language. Explaining things others achieve as luck is a way to justify why you didn’t succeed. The best definition of luck that I’ve ever seen is an acrostic.


If you simply thought about doing that – laboring under correct knowledge – your success as a leader would soar. It implies that becoming (and being) an effective leader is work. It also reminds us to gain the knowledge (and skills) we need from the right sources – practicing the wrong skills or at the wrong time or in the wrong ways won’t lead to success or “luck.”

But I want to take you a bit further today.

Taking the idea of the acrostic to spell the word, here’s how leaders can get lucky.

Understand more
Create a team
Know you don’t know it all

Let me explain what I mean, and then challenge you with some questions for your application. Because, you want more luck too, don’t you?

Listen. The best leaders are great listeners. They listen to their teams, their peers and their Customers. They listen to learn. They listen to acknowledge. They listen to show respect and build relationships. They know that one of the best ways to influence others is by listening first.

– How effective are you as a listening leader?
– Is your first response to talk, or listen?

Understand more. Leaders realize they have to see the world differently and proactively seek a new viewpoint on things around them. The best leaders actively work to understand the world around them better. This includes understanding human behavior, the marketplace, their industry, their community and a hundred other things. It is hard work to find ways to build these perspectives and gain this understanding.

– What information inputs do you use?
– Who do you talk to?
– Are they giving you the understanding and perspective you need to see the bigger picture for your organization, team and yourself?

Create a team. There may be a rebel without a cause, but there is no leader without a team. No one can do it all themselves, and the best leaders know that. The leaders that you see making a big difference are doing it with a team they have selected, created and nurtured. The best leaders know that their team is the best possible leverage they could have – and that with their team excelling much more can be achieved.

– How much time are you investing in your team?
– What are you doing to help your team succeed?
– Does your time and effort invested correlate with your belief in the value of these activities?

Know you don’t know it all. The best leaders are healthily humble – they know what they don’t know, aren’t ashamed of it, and are ready to learn. The best leaders are constantly learning because they know that successful leading isn’t a destination – you never arrive. This learning mindset not only helps the leader personally, it sends the right message and sets the right example for those they lead.

– Would people call you humble? If not, why not?
– What skills are you intentionally trying to learn now?
– Are you clear on your weaknesses?

Becoming a highly effective leader doesn’t require the “Luck of the Irish” or “counting your lucky stars”. Becoming an effective leader is available to you if you are willing to do the work necessary. Call it “making your luck” if you wish, but I’d rather call it making a bigger difference in the world – which is what Remarkable Leaders do.

It’s your lucky day! Would you like $916.25 of leadership development resources as my gift to you? If so, learn more here:

photo credit: billaday via photopin cc

11 Simple Concepts to Become a Better Leader


by Dave Kerpen

Being likeable will help you in your job, business, relationships, and life. I interviewed dozens of successful business leaders for my last book, to determine what made them so likeable and their companies so successful. All of the concepts are simple, and yet, perhaps in the name of revenues or the bottom line, we often lose sight of the simple things – things that not only make us human, but can actually help us become more successful. Below are the eleven most important principles to integrate to become a better leader:

1. Listening

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway

Listening is the foundation of any good relationship. Great leaders listen to what their customers and prospects want and need, and they listen to the challenges those customers face. They listen to colleagues and are open to new ideas. They listen to shareholders, investors, and competitors. Here’s why the best CEO’s listen more.

2. Storytelling

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” -Robert McAfee Brown

After listening, leaders need to tell great stories in order to sell their products, but more important, in order to sell their ideas. Storytelling is what captivates people and drives them to take action. Whether you’re telling a story to one prospect over lunch, a boardroom full of people, or thousands of people through an online video – storytelling wins customers.

3. Authenticity

“I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier.” -Oprah Winfrey

Great leaders are who they say they are, and they have integrity beyond compare. Vulnerability and humility are hallmarks of the authentic leader and create a positive, attractive energy. Customers, employees, and media all want to help an authentic person to succeed. There used to be a divide between one’s public self and private self, but the social internet has blurred that line. Tomorrow’s leaders are transparent about who they are online, merging their personal and professional lives together.

4. Transparency

“As a small businessperson, you have no greater leverage than the truth.” -John Whittier

There is nowhere to hide anymore, and businesspeople who attempt to keep secrets will eventually be exposed. Openness and honesty lead to happier staff and customers and colleagues. More important, transparency makes it a lot easier to sleep at night – unworried about what you said to whom, a happier leader is a more productive one.

5. Team Playing

“Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds.” -SEAL Team Saying

No matter how small your organization, you interact with others every day. Letting others shine, encouraging innovative ideas, practicing humility, and following other rules for working in teams will help you become a more likeable leader. You’ll need a culture of success within your organization, one that includes out-of-the-box thinking.

Read the other 6 here: