0074: Can You Last For Eighteen Seconds?

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Hey there, hero!

Tom Peters is one of my mentors.

(He likely doesn’t know or care about this fact, but it’s true nonetheless.)

His lessons on how to run your business on a high level started for me a long time ago, but remain some of the most powerful guidance I’ve received.

He answers the question “How long before the average person simply must interrupt the person they are speaking with?”

You might be surprised how short that time is…and how you can be more effective by being more patient than average.

Can you last eighteen seconds? Are you that patient? Let me know in the comments below.

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  1. David, this advice is priceless. I just shared it with my son who’s in the workforce where he interacts with lots of his peers. No doubt it’s important to let your boss talk and *not* interrupt her/him!

    I do lots of phone consult calls and I can tell you it really pays to just listen to what people say. And as you point out, they do give important clues as they speak. Great job as usual. Keep ’em coming!

  2. Thank you for articulating this, David. Invaluable advice.

    For the last two years, I have been reminding myself to let people finish before speaking. In fact, t’s become a rule (part of a community agreement) of the theater company with which I work. As you have beautifully said here, it gives you time to absorb, to hear and to craft an appropriate response. I’ve found that I t also allows me to relax.

    One characteristic about interruption of which I have been reminded, and have observed, frequently. There is often a gendered component where women are interrupted by men far more often than the reverse. Something to bear in mind.

    Thank you again for these podcasts. They are excellent.

  3. An exceptional quantification of the cardinal rule of communication: Listening is more important than speaking—it’s not a 50/50 proposition. If a listener is busy formulating a response, which by definition can not be fully responsive until the speaker has finished their proposition, and searching for a place to interrupt, then they are not listening.

    I wonder how many will now be watching the clock while formulating their repartee and searching for a place to bring the attention back to them where it belongs. Exhausting, I’m sure.

  4. I did a relationships workshop years ago in which we did an incredibly revealing exercise:

    Sat in a dyad, we had 2 minutes to do it three different times. The first time, we listened to our partner share something personal, and were instructed to chime in with helpful thoughts, advice, questions.

    The second time, we listened and were instructed not to say anything, but to let the person know we were listening with small affirmations—head nods, little agreement noises, etc.

    And the third time, we were instructed not to react or respond at all—to just be there, almost impassively, as our partner shared. And that was the most revelatory experience, by far. The power of simply LISTENING… it wasn’t uncommon for people all over the room to tear up at the experience of truly being HEARD for the first time in a long time.

    I’ll never forget it! Thanks for this potent reminder.

    1. I would imagine that not giving the speaker any feedback at all likely made them work harder to feel like they were being heard, as you were not giving any non-verbal clues. Interesting.

  5. WOW David, did this ever resonate with me! It drives me crazy when I observe others interjecting while another person’s speaking (especially when being given direction!) and yet (according to my family who KNOWS), I am the most guilty of this exact behavior! Mostly in my family relationships, but you’ve made me pause to consider that I obviously must do this more frequently than I care to admit! We all want to be heard and as an actor/VO artist, it’s imperative that we really hear what our goal is for our performance. It’s on each of us to truly LISTEN so we’re on the same page! Thank you for this, my Friend!