There is nothing so annoying as to have two people talking when you're busy interrupting.
– Mark Twain
Not everyone—but almost everyone—likes to talk. Not everyone listens. Too bad for them, because listening is good. A good listener may get credit from the speaker, for as you confer credibility on the speaker they will appreciate it. Next to talking, we like to be heard. Listening has its benefits. Even if you don’t believe a word they are saying, you can learn something, and in business communications you can learn a lot. You can find out about your firm’s internal strength and weaknesses, about client preferences, and what your competitors are up to. Listening is a competitive strategy. To separate yourself from the rest it’s a discipline worth practicing.
But if you’re around other talkers, you’ll need some techniques to consider, to help the speaker keep the floor.
When it comes to the discipline of listen, we can be our own worst enemy and jump in too soon. A good practice is to hold your thought and count to five. Silence can be a powerful motivator for the speaker to continue. Sometimes there are others, maybe one, maybe many who will interrupt the speaker just when it was getting interesting. One thing you can do is to steer the conversation back. “So, you were saying .” It’s really OK to redirect the conversation, especially if the interrupter was serving their own interests while impeding the speaker from making a point. A little, “Oh, that’s interesting, but as you were saying . . .” can help everyone save face, and get the conversation back on track. And just as you confer credibility on the speaker, you will receive it in return. You become recognized as someone who cares about what's being said. Speakers really like that.
There are other tips and techniques to practice in the discipline of listen, but first, we need to get savvy about giving the speaker the floor.