How to Talk With People May 10 2012

This is one of those titles that when you read it, you might be saying, “Really?” Yes, really. There’s a big difference between talking to people and talking with people. If you’re the designated leader in your organization, that difference has a multiplier effect that can cut in either direction.

In a post a few weeks ago, I asked if you were a transmitter or a receiver. Transmitters talk to people. Receivers talk with people. Transmitters take the teaching stance. Receivers take the learning stance.

When you’re the leader, you end up leading a lot of conversations in which multiple people participate. Sometimes you need to transmit to get a point across. That’s talking to people. Most of the time, though, you’re going to want to set things up so you learn from people and they learn from each other. That requires talking with people.

As the leader, you’ll set the tone as to whether it’s a talking to or talking with conversation.

Here are three ways to improve your communication skills by talking with people when you’re the leader.

  • Ask open-ended questions. Yes or no questions put people on the defensive and shut down options. Ask open ended questions. The best ones start with the word, what.
  • Give your opinion last. If you go first, everyone else is likely to conform their input to yours.
  • Talk half as much. Remember that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

What are your favorite tips for having a talking with instead of a talking to conversation?

3 Responses to “How to Talk With People”

  1. Stay curious especially when you hear something or meet someone you disagree with. Propose your ideas and invite others to improve them. Keep your sense of humor and soften your automatic judgments. We're a funny bunch.

  2. Hammo says:

    Super helpful post!

    I especially like "Give your opinion last". As the leader our voice is often the heaviest in the room, even if we're not the smartest person in the room.

  3. Just doing some research on experts in the field of team communication and I came across your blog. I like this post, it's concise and has people really reflect on the output of what their communication is intended to do. If you simply want to communicate information than talking to people is just fine, if you want to develop a trusting relationship you need to be talking with people

    Thanks for the post

Dismiss ×

Get Scott Eblin’s monthly leadership insights

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.