Louder Doesn’t Equal Right

As the conversation gets heated, the volume starts to rise.

We’ve all been there – both on the receiving end as well as the giving end.  One party tries to drown out the other party to get their point across.  The thing about it is that most of the time it isn’t even happening consciously.  It is the Monkey Mind pushing past reason.  This is a response as natural as fight or flight.

But being louder doesn’t make you more right.

How can I stop doing this?

The first step towards regulating your volume control is to recognize that it is happening in the first place.  It won’t take much introspection for you to know if you react this way during conversation.  If this sounds like you then you’ll already know it.

The second, and most important, step towards correcting this tendency is to make a commitment to change.  The techniques that follow are worthless if not pursued with the right intention.  If you have made a decision to change this habit then the next time you find your volume increasing you will notice it and be able to do something about it.

There are two techniques to help you be more mindful of your speaking volume.

  1. Pause before speaking
  2. Slow down

These Powerful Speaking Techniques will help you be more mindful of how you are delivering your message.

When the other person has said something and it is time for your reply you should first pause.  By waiting a moment before opening your mouth it shows the other person that you are Actively Listening to what they are saying and responding to that, rather than just saying what you had pre-planned in your head.  This is a key point in active listening.

Then when you do speak, do it just a little slower than you normally would.  While it may sound odd to you it will sound normal to them.  We have a tendency to speed up when we are passionate about a topic, due in part to the fact that you’ve already thought about it so much.  You develop ideas that are clear to you  so therefore don’t need to think on them as much, so you rush ahead.  The person you are speaking with however could probably use a little more time to take it in.

What if somebody is doing it to me?

If you are in a conversation where the other person is a Type A and is speaking over you then the solution is the same – Pause before speaking and Slow Down.   In the first case you are using these techniques to regulate yourself.  In this instance you are using them to control the Pace of the conversation.

When you pause before speaking to a person that is rushing ahead loudly you disrupt the flow and rhythm of the conversation.  Think of it as leading by example.  You are demonstrating the appropriate pace of the conversation.

Next, by slowing down your speaking you are reinforcing the desired pace.  Imagine that you are very excited and start a conversation with somebody who speaks very slowly and monotone.  It would be hard to maintain your level of excitement as the rhythm of the conversation would be to disjointed.  This is the same idea that is performed in a more subtle manner.

In case the Loud Talker is not taking the hint there is a third, more advanced technique, known as Mirroring.  This was popularized by Dr. Richard Bandler in his work with Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).

This involves matching, or mirroring, the other persons tone, pace, body language, and even breathing rhythm.  If they are standing tall and making big gestures, you stand tall and make big gestures.  If they are hunched over with arms crossed, you do the same.  People respond best to those that are like them and by mirroring their body language you are building rapport.

Once the two of you are in sync, you then change your body language and pace to something more positive.  So when dealing with a Loud Talker you would first start by matching them, then slowing your pace and calming your body language.  If done correctly they should do the same in order to match you.

Remember that this is all very subtle and needs to be done without the other person realizing it, or they may feel like you are mocking them, which breaks down the trust in the conversation.

When in doubt, stick to the basics

If mirroring sounds too advanced for you, don’t worry.  By sticking to the basics; Pausing before speaking, and Slowing Down, you will be able to influence all but the most excitable people.

Again, these are very subtle techniques but powerful as well.  They may feel uncomfortable to you at first but if you give it a fair chance you will be surprised at how predictably people respond to them.  I urge you to try them and let me know how it works.

Do you have other techniques for dealing with Loud Talkers?  Please share your experiences.

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