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The Drone Zone

Tags:  Communication Skills, Career advice, Difficult co-worker


You're halfway into your speech or story thoroughly engrossed in your own creative telling when you look around at your audience only to realize that half of them are in a glazed-eye stupor. The other half has fallen asleep. That's when you realize you've done it. You've crossed over into ""The Drone Zone"".


So why do we find ourselves entrenched in ""motormouthistis""? For most people it stems from nervousness. You may be uncomfortable talking in large groups or when meeting new people. Perhaps you said something embarrassing about someone. Then in an effort to deflect attention and hide your discomfort you continue talking. Unfortunately, this ends up drawing even more attention your way. 


Instead, the best remedy is to shut up. Formulate your concluding thought. Make a final statement. And let someone else have the floor. 


Before you find yourself ""running off at the mouth"" consider some typical situations people find themselves in and how to keep from falling prey.

TMI (Too Much Information)

You meet someone for the first time and feel the need to impress him or her or you fear that they won't like you or that you won't know what to say. So instead you say the wrong thing. Perhaps it's an innocent joke or a colorful statement of fact that you think is cute or clever. Whatever it may be you end up providing too much information. Then to cover your blunder, you keep talking hoping to redirect the conversation away from you or the subject. However, it's like adding salt to the wound. 


The best way to prevent getting into this situation is to plan ahead when meeting someone new or interacting with strangers, or even when interviewing. If you find you get nervous when meeting new people, develop three or four questions you might ask in order to have the other person do the talking. This not only provides you with an opportunity to gain your composure it may well impress the new acquaintance who will feel flattered by your attention.

Blowing Your Cover

This situation is generally predicated on the fact that you've told a little white lie and then turn around and blow your cover.   Consider what happened to one young woman.


The incident occurred after she called in sick one Friday. Monday morning she regaled everyone with the wonderful weekend she had camping with her sons. Halfway into her story the looked at her coworker's faces and realized her blunder. As she quickly tried to back peddle by inserting the fact that they had gone on Saturday after she recovered from her ""illness"", it was evident that the damage had already been done to her credibility and to the working relationships she had developed. Wind of her actions reached management's ears and when a reduction in force happened to roll around a few months later, her name was on the short list. Was this the only reason she was laid off? Probably not, but it didn't help.


Perhaps the main impetus here is not to lie. However, if you do find yourself in a situation where you have ""manipulated"" the truth, it could be best to come clean. It all depends on what you said and why you said it.  If suddenly springing the truth is not an option then changing the subject…quickly…might be your only way out.

Boring Your Audience

The biggest fear most people have is public speaking. Add to that a fear of boring your audience and your worst nightmare could come true.   This does not necessarily happen only in front of large groups. Even if you are facilitating a meeting of a few, you could run into this problem. 


To prepare yourself for public speaking…practice, practice, practice. Take a class. Hone your skills in front of friends and family. Know your audience. Know your subject. Incorporate ""you"" into your speech. That is, tell personal stories as a way of communicating your subject. Use humor. Make your topic as entertaining as possible.  And don't overstay your welcome. This is true no matter what the size of your audience. 

Over Apologizing

Over apologizing occurs when something goes wrong or you say something inappropriate and instead of just expressing your apologies, you go overboard by repeating them again…and again…and…well you know. In this case, once is enough.


Don't fall into the trap of over apologizing. If you feel the need to apologize to someone, be sure to get his attention. Say your apology. Wait for him to acknowledge you. End of story.


Remember, knowing when to stop talking is important for developing solid verbal communication skills as well as for maintaining strong relationships.

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