When you talk with employees, keep the conversation focused on them. That sounds basic. But many managers wind up giving lectures, sharing anecdotes and repeating what they want the worker to do.
To talk less, don’t fall in love with the sound of your voice. You know you’re in trouble if you catch yourself using phrases such as, “Well, to make a long story short …” or “I guess I’m doing all the talking here.”
To let others take center stage, ask questions. Get them to reveal what they’re thinking. In addition, make probing statements such as, “I bet that surprises you” or “This may strike you as more trouble than it’s worth.” Then stay silent.
By prompting your subordinates to open up, you learn what makes them tick. Better yet, you avoid pontificating and thus triggering their boredom or confusion.
To test yourself throughout the day, limit your speaking to one-fifth of the conversation. That way, you ensure that your well-chosen words resonate with the listener.