Talk Less, Earn More

View of a man in glasses driving a car on a sunny dayMy father was a man of few words, but he was verbose compared to Cousin Jimmy. Once on a 550-mile car trip from Buffalo, NY to Portland, MA with his wife, Jimmy uttered six words. 

If you’re like Jimmy, to aid your professional success, memorize several universal questions stems. Use these to encourage others to speak. One example: Why did or do you…? With this stem, ask questions, such as, “Why did you attend today?” “Why do you donate?” “Why do you think the event was successful?”     

Most of us are not like Jimmy. Instead of too few word, we use too many. 

We talk to unjumble thoughts racing through our heads. We talk to appear friendly. We talk to be noticed. We talk to avoid awkward silences. We talk because it’s less scary than actions in the short run.

Our chatter gobbles up time. Worse, it stymies relationship growth. Here are five ways to talk less to increase your performance:

  1. Use why questions.
  2. Stop before speaking. Think. Summarize your answer.
  3. Pretend you’re being interviewed on the radio. Respond in a short paragraph that is two or three sentences.
  4. Avoid repeating yourself. If you hear yourself retelling, laugh and say, “I was just about to tell you I was stressed…. again!”
  5. Before scheduled conversations, establish your agenda. What do you want to accomplish? Set minimum and maximum goals. When you begin, ask for the agenda of others. Then, proceed orientating the conversation toward the goals.

Take the 30-Day-Be-More-Like-Jimmy-Challenge: Pick one of the five tactics above to use this month. Want to create an organization-wide impact and improve your performance and donations by 10 percent? Challenge your staff to the 30-Day-Be-More-Like-Jimmy-Challenge.    

Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis Consulting guides executive directors and CEOs to generate the resources, boards, and support they need to make remarkable progress on their missions. As the award-winning thought-leader, advisor, and founding principal of Karen Eber Davis Consulting, Karen helps nonprofit leaders get answers, generate revenue, and grow their mission. Davis is known for her innovation and practicality based on her work with or visits to over 1,000 nonprofit organizations and her experience leading board and team events. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.