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Engaging In Conversation? W.A.I.T.

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Engaging in Conversation? W.A.I.T.

Recently on #kaizenblog (a hashtag Twitter chat), we were talking about how knowing your core competencies can improve your business messaging. As with any conversation about communication, people started discussing the art of  listening. That’s when Eric Tsai (@designdamage) shared some advice from his mentor, “My mentor’s best advice when engaging in conversation: W.A.I.T. Why Am I Talking?”

Conversations are supposed to be two-way events. Business owners are in conversations with customers, peers, prospects, vendors, employees and many other people every day. Who were you talking with today? Sometimes we get sidetracked by accident. A person could be tired or distracted and just not have the capacity to stop. Other times people fall in love with their ideas, the sound of their voices, or just not have the

social skills to focus beyond themselves. There are even times when we are so nervous that we get carried away and keep talking.

Reconnecting your brain to your mouth

We know that our brains can get disconnected from our mouths. Sometimes emotions hijack us (anger and anxiety are the most common culprits) and we stop thinking clearly. It happens. Maybe it’s not the way we really want to conduct ourselves and yes, active listening skills are important. However, there is one pieListening builds good businessesce here that may help you reconnect your brain to your mouth even before you find yourself babbling away.

Take time to W.A.I.T.

What would happpen if we entered conversations with an intent? This is where our emotional intelligence serves us.

  • Know why you are in the conversation-Take time ahead of the conversation to identify the purpose of the conversation. Identify who you are talking to and your agenda for having the conversation.
  • Identify the triggers that derail your usual good communication skills. Sometimes it can be simply the time of day. Some of us are morning people while others are more alert later in the day. If you are entering a high pressure situation, use relaxation techniques or other healthy coping mechanisms to keep your emotions in check so you don’t cloud your message.

What will your business gain by using W.A.I.T.?

Perhaps the biggest gain is a business leader who is a calm and collected communicator who listens. Remember people love to be acknowledged. If you remember something they said to you, they will feel like you really saw them as a person. Listening skillfully also means we can tailor our products or services to suit our customer or know when they are not a good fit. When we stop talking, we are able to pick up information that will make our businesses stronger.

When do you use W.A.I.T?

What other tips do you have that make using W.A.I.T. more powerful?

Growing a business locally or internationally takes a different mindset; the CEO Mindset. Elli St.George-Godfrey, a behavioral economics coach, international expansion consultant and founder of Ability Success Growth, uses her 3 Keys Coaching process to help business owners and executives in the US, Ireland and Northern Ireland to unlock the CEO within. Under her guidance, personal styles are fine-tuned allowing the senior leader to “authentically inhabit” the role of CEO and collaborate with their team more effectively. With this focus on both the people and the organization in which they work, Elli’s market-proven coaching helps leaders and their teams develop styles and capabilities which enables them to collaborate and effectively join together to optimize the business outcomes.

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  • Elli, this is great advice. Listening is for me the most important sense when it comes to business, it’s something we all like to think we are good at yet in reality few of us are. It’s something I personally need to be conscious of and I’m glad to say it’s a skill I have been able to improve over the years. This may get me in trouble but on average I think women are more natural & active listeners than men 😉

  • Anonymous


    While women might be better listeners than men (check out this article:, there is still a lot we don’t know. The major thing thing is to know why we are talking and listening.

  • Anonymous

    Listening,listening and listening is a great habbit. Once listened properly half the battle is won already.One knows where the other person stands,What is he thinking,What are his demands.And in business you learn about your competitors,about market,about pricing,only thru proper listening.

  • Hi Elli – great post thanks!
    To use statistics, we should be listening 80% of the time as Coaches. This helped me a lot to improve my active listening skills, and to know when to stop talking for the sake of it. I am a culprit of using my mouth when nervous, I could talk for Ireland.
    Being a Trainer, this is a natural talent, and a useful skill at tea breaks, to build a rapport with participants.
    However, in Coaching, listening is key – and the simple 80/20 rule helps me on a basic level 🙂

  • Good post Richie. Regarding your last point, yes, Open Source is still tricky to a lot of companies. Not everybody is on board with the idea. However the more big companies adopt this software, the faster the trend will move. We saw Cisco this year, leaving their proprietary software and moving to WordPress with their mega blog:

  • Hi Richie, nnI use lots of OS tools on a personal level but… for corp projects would usually recommend apps from vendors that have support systems and SLAs in place, eg for mission critical apps. nnIvan

  • Folks, thanks for the retweets.nnIvan, agree with your principle. What I am seeing from some clients, is that they are happy with the feature/service profile of some open apps to use them in their daily business, While other open software such as MySQL / SugarCRM are adding ‘enterprise’ support agreements (at a cost) to re-assure clients for important apps/services. – Horses for courses etc. nnFred, agree with your point as regards the more companies that use open software the greater the trend. For me, the big plus with the open world is the sharing and innovation. nnI will be interested to hear any comments on the ‘open data’ portion of the blog particularly in relation to Google’s value/control & transparency principles.nnThanks

  • Hi there Richie,nnYou’ve picked a great topic to explain, as open source is an area of confusion.nI’m fairly familiar with most of the above, especially the CMS.nnWhat do you fell are the main benefits of open source in comparison to closed?nTina

  • Christina, thanks for the comment. Main benefits of open source for me are an active community innovating a product/service together. It may take longer than with proprietary software, but in the longer term there can be more success. I would agree with the point in the Google open letter, that after a period of time, the closed software will peak and head on a downward curve.

  • Hi Richie, good to see you back on here! Nice explanations and helped lift some of my personal fog around the subject 🙂

  • Slightly off-topic:nOpen Source software is yet a necessity for small businesses, however i feel that it has become the “norm” and it’s ever more difficult for people to get paid for their software (especially mobile apps).nnMy humble observation is that we have nurtured a whole generation of free software users, to the extent that they have little regard for copyright at all!! If they can get it free, then great, even if that means pirating or availing of the black market.nnBut that may simply mean that online usage is developing at such a rate that to pay for all the services we use, would negate the direction we are heading with Semantic Web (?)nnThe debate continues…

  • Happy to help…

  • Elaine, thanks for the comments and observations. This discussion needs more time and a coffee or two!nI am not a legal expert, but as I mentioned in the article, there are different licence(s) options that should be used with open source software. So if open source software is being used as per the licence arrangements, then that’s fine, if it’s not then its piracy – not because its open source, but because the licence arrangements are not being adhered.nnRichie

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the lovely comment Tara.

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