I just got off the phone with a business owner interviewing me for an executive coaching role with his company. A great opportunity, I really wanted impress. But halfway through the call, I realized I was about to kill opportunity.
I was talking waaaaay too much.
My Surefire Method To Kill Opportunity
As skilled as I am at creating opportunity with words. I am equally skilled at killing opportunity with words. Too many words.
Being Manic Impressive means being good with words. Using them to inspire, enlighten, cajole and entertain. We are schmoozers and storytellers gifted in the verbal arts. We use words to charm and delight our prospects, and influence them to act on our behalf.
But too much of a good thing is very often a bad thing.
The Double-Edged Sword
Eloquent words are great weaponry in most aspects of life. But like any weapon used incorrectly, words can inflict a lot of damage to yourself. I happen to be very good at stabbing myself this way.
I’m like a ninja assassin. But I’m constantly taking me out.
It starts out great, with me passionately answering questions and giving great examples and stories of how awesome I am. And yes, in a job interview, you do need to sell yourself.
But I often don’t know when to stop selling. And overselling, like talking too much, can be deadly when it comes to opportunity.
Talking Yourself Out Of A Deal
In my early sales training with Xerox, one of the basic concepts they preached was knowing when to make an offer and then to shut up. “Don’t talk yourself out of a deal”, they would say.
Of course, I understood the concept, in theory. But a few years later, I would fail in real-time to succeed in the practice.
After three months of knocking on doors to sell training for a new company, I finally landed an appointment with a key decision-maker. If I could close this guy, I’d get a big account that would get our new firm successfully off the ground.
Things were going great, but for some reason, I was oblivious to all the buying signals this guy was giving off. I kept pushing and kept talking. Until he finally actually said, “Hey, are you going to talk yourself out of this deal? I already said yes. Please stop selling me!”
A Lesson I Have To Keep Repeating
This guy did me a huge favor. Talk about “teachable moment!” The lesson he taught me was worth far more than the two years of business I got through the contract he signed.
But despite all that, I find myself all these years later, still having to remind myself to keep it brief. Make the point, ask for the business and shut the hell up.
Or as in the case of an interview, answer the question and move on. Don’t belabor the point. One good example is enough. A solid story to show what you can do. Be brief, and you’ll give them more time to ask you more questions. Then you can tell more (short) stories that prove your worth.
But if you, like me, cross that invisible line by talking too much, you might test their patience. And you never want them to start wondering if you’ll be more trouble than you’re worth.
Don’t Kill Opportunity Like Me
Be smart. Choose your words wisely and don’t overwhelm people with them. Know when to ask for what you want, and then, SHUT UP! Let the other person respond without jumping in to fill the silence.
Silence can be your best friend. Lord knows I need him with me now.