Communication Is Crucial To Success!

The last two weeks have been pretty hectic.  There really must be something going on because I’ve been spending time with people who like to tell stories and go into great detail about what happened to whom, when, where, how.  You’ve probably experienced the same thing.  Someone who just goes into great detail in their story and you just want to say… So get to the point already or as my kids used to say… I need to know that why?

It could be the drama that attracts them. Perhaps they want to distract you (or themselves) from a difficult issue. They could also be a sequential thinker or a ‘detail-oriented’ person. There are plenty of reasons WHY some people just like to talk, but in this post we’re going to look at specific things you can ASK or SAY to get them to the point – fast!

When it’s a colleague, customer or client you’ve got a bit more latitude to be direct than if the storyteller is your boss. But with everyone working harder often doing the job of two or more people there are times when you just don’t have time to hear the ENTIRE story.  So what do you do when you need them to get to the point?

Take a deep breath and say firmly, “I don’t intend to me rude but I’m going to interrupt you here…” and then ask:

8 Easy Questions to Get a Chatty Cathy or Blabbermouth Boris to the Point!

  1. So, tell me what finally happens.
  2. In a nutshell, what’s the issue/goal here?
  3. So, what would you like to handle first/now?
  4. Can you give me your goal/issue in one sentence?
  5. If you were to take a helicopter view, what do you need me to know?
  6. What are the key points that you need to tell me so I can help you?
  7. If you could sum the situation up in one word or phrase, what would that be?
  8. Lastly number 8. I used this one with my staff.  There are times when we all just need to vent and that include your boss.  I suggest you use this one with a bit of light heartedness. “How can I help you? Do you want to spend time venting or get things sorted?”  Works every time and it sends a signal that you care but only to a point.

The Trick: Not allowing the emotion surrounding your irritation not getting to you.  You need to remain focused and confident. By all means try a ‘soft’ interruption first, but if this doesn’t work take a deep breath and – if necessary – cut right across them. With some folks this is the only thing that will work.

Watch out for: Sometimes a story contains essential elements that need to be told. Or perhaps they need to feel heard and have a safe place to ‘vent’. Or they may simply be a person who likes detail or to work through their thoughts sequentially. You’ll need to use your coaching skills and trust your gut – which of course gets easier with practice and experience!

Improve your skills:  When I practice these skills with my clients the first thing they say “I couldn’t say any of these.” It seems rude or it might make them angry.” I’m here to tell you; you can do it and no these 8 questions are not rude unless you say them with irritation or anger. 

And that’s the key, how safe we feel determines whether you feel comfortable asking others to get to the point.  Ask yourself, “what is it about this person or conversation that’s holding me back?” Most of the time what’s holding you back is your perception of being rude or inappropriate to interrupt someone. Practice with someone you trust and soon you’ll be adding time to your schedule.

Do you have a tip or technique that gets others to the heart of the matter? What’s the worse way you’ve seen someone interrupt a conversation just to get to the point?  I’d love to hear how you gracefully or maybe not so gracefully help others to get to the point.