Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Talking Too Much – Part I

I realized since coming here that I blabber and talk too much. Perhaps this was an asset in Asia where speaking English is considered a good skill. But in the US this is not a good asset because everyone speaks English here (although Spanish is catching up). I had a similar feeling when I worked for 4 months in India. So speaking a lot does no have any value here as compared to other countries where English is not the main spoken language. So in this environment, speaking too much may need to be converted to speaking less. But this would not do because one will not have a chance to be known as everyone is encouraged to speak up and express his opinions.

So the next best thing is to be precise and speak honestly with integrity. Hence more thought should be taken before opening one’s mouth. Maybe a good analogy is that of a machine gun spewing out bullets all over the place as compared to one using a sniper’s rifle, picking out the appropriate targets with less effort or bullets. Nevertheless if one does proceed with a machine gun, it should be of a high quality than the usual run of the mill type. There are a lot of magnetic preachers and speakers around here that one has to be really good to rise up from the babbling speakers. Watching MSNBC or Fox Television is a good case in point where every man and his dog are just spewing out verbiage with out any precision or careful thought.

Making a good distinction in this regard are people like Abraham Lincoln and his present day protégé, Barack Obama. Both are master speakers but they are not the machine-gun type talkers who spew out elegant phrases for the consumption or entertainment of the masses. Of course they both have excellent speaking skills but what distinguishes them is the quality of their words and the careful thought process behind that which turn listeners from just being entertained to being enlightened and driven to action. I think their effectiveness are not only the well-crafted phrase but the sincerity and integrity and sensibleness or subtleness of their comments. This ability has allowed them to succeed in winning elections against great speakers who also possess incredible speaking skills.

The lesson here is that speaking English well is not enough to succeed. Careful and considered thought have to be behind the words. For example, joining Toastmaster here in the US is a different experience than joining Toastmasters in Asia. The main goal is not only to conquer the fear of public speaking but also to speak at a higher level than previously possible in a country that does not have English as the main language. One can argue that Spanish is also a well known language here but the goal here is effective communication rather than just public speaking. In other words, public speaking does not equate to being articulate. Being articulate should become second nature, like an instinctive reflex for one to be successful.

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