Your hand doesn’t have to shoot up first

My parents’ favorite childhood tale to tell – mainly to embarrass me, I assume – is called “The Hand Raiser.”

(Apparently) when I was four years old, my folks used to watch my pre-school class through a one-way mirror.

The school I attended provided an Observation Room so parents could observe their kids completely without distracting students or teachers. Ultimately, the goal was to present them with a clear picture of how their children interacted during school.

Now, contrary to frequent assumption, I was NOT the class clown.

My behavior was a little different.

See, if you ask my mother, she’ll proudly tell you, “Whenever the teacher posed a question, asked for participation or requested a student’s help … Scott’s hand would ALWAYS shoot up first! Sometimes before the teacher even finished talking!”

To which I’ve always conceded, Yeah. That sounds like me…

“It’s like, it didn’t matter WHAT the question was,” my Dad often adds. “Scott just wanted to talk! He LOVED to participate in the discussion, even if he had no idea what he was talking about.”

Ha! Once again, guilty.

Now, keep in mind: I was only four years old at the time.

Twenty-five years later, I’m all grows up and I’m all grows up, as Vince Vaughn would say. And I’m proud to say I’ve made GREAT progress in my listening practice.

SEE, HERE’S WHAT I’VE LEARNED: Your hand doesn’t have to shoot up first.

Show some restraint. Practice some patience. Just listen and wait for the answer. No need to pounce on every pause.

As my marketing professor, Dr. Speh, used to teach us, “When you go to a meeting, don’t say anything until the last five minutes. That way you can collect you thoughts, clarify your position and speak confidently.”

Growing up, children create the perception that whoever hand shoots up first is the smartest person in the room.

Not (always) true.

Instead, biting your tongue until the end of the meeting (or group conversation, teleseminar, etc.) will net four key results:

1. By looking around, listening and learning FIRST, your eventually comment will contain its maximum amount of brilliance. Because you will have perfected your answer by listening to others first.

2. By asking yourself, “Is it a sound instinct or a strong impulse?” you learn to respond, not react. This helps you become a better judge of which thoughts need to be shared, and which thoughts need to be shirked.

3. If you only say one thing, it become more profound, as scarcity creates a perception of value. Think Silent Bob. He only voices one thought per movie, and it’s always killer!

4. The longer you wait to say something, the more everybody else will want to know what you’re thinking. And your calmness, patience and quietude will draw them in.

See, most meetings eventually come to a point where the leader or facilitator will say, “OK, is there anything else?” “Does anybody have any questions?” or “Any final thoughts before we finish?”

At which point, all you have to say is, “I had an observation…”

At which point, all the people in the room or around the table will turn their heads, rotate their chairs and look in the direction of the ONE person who hasn’t said anything all morning.

And the floor will be yours.

REMEMBER: Your hand doesn’t have to shoot up first.

Ultimately, you’ll increase your approachability without saying a word.

Are you an impatient listener?

For the list called, “31 Questions to Test Your Listening Skills,: send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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