Yakety Yak

Bob Goldman on

If a certain level of verbosity might have helped you in the past, or, at least, not hurt you too much, the fast pace of business today significantly increases the stigma of being a Chatty Cathy in the workplace.

"In a world where leaders issue policy pronouncements in 140-character bursts, shorter attention spans mean executives must make their point quickly," says John Hartmann, head of True Value Co.

(Which leader Hartmann refers to is a completely mystery to me. I suppose he's talking about the Bieb.)

When low-level people talk too much, they don't get hired. When high-level executives come down with a potentially fatal case of terminal verbosity, they get coaches. To cure "star players" of their talkaholic tendencies, a company will cheerfully shell out between $300 and $500 an hour for a professional to tell executives to button it.

One such coach, Laurie Schloff, recommends that talky types "picture the word 'WAIT' on a listener's forehead."

Schloff says the acronym stands for "Why Am I Talking?" and is helpful in making the garrulous speaker to hush their mouth. When I'm coaching, I use "WAIL," but on the speaker's forehead. My acronym stands for "Why Am I Living?"

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If neither of these approaches work, both speakers and listeners can use "WAIWASSOMF?" "Why Am I Wearing A Stupid Sign On My Forehead?"

That always works.

Problem talkers may also "boast too much without substantiation." This is the opinion of recruiter Ellen Kinlin who described an overly braggadocios person who "told me three times in the first 15 minutes how smart he was."

It is difficult not to flap your lips in a job interview. You are just so wonderful and fascinating, you convince yourself that nobody would want to miss a word. And that's true, as long as nobody is your mom.


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