For some people who complain they are too busy, the cause is clear when you spend any amount of time with them—they talk too much! If they just got on and acted on their problems instead of talking about them, they would make so much more progress.
Here are six things to NOT talk about…
If I ask you how you are I don’t want a detailed account of every ailment, or every day of your holiday—a quick overview would be fine. It’s not that I don’t care—well, it might be—but even if I do care, the extra detail doesn’t help. I just want to find out how you are, or whether your holiday was good. “Then on Wednesday, or was it Thursday, no I think it was Wednesday, we met this guy, Dave I think it was called, no, Peter, that as it…” I don’t need to know this level of detail!
There is no point in telling me something twice, and yet some conversations seem to go around in circles. “I must, but I can’t, but I must, but I can’t.” Or “Do you think I should do A? Because B might be better? But then again, A would be good. Or maybe B…” Do you find yourself saying the same thing within five minutes of last saying it? How much time is this costing you in your life overall? If you ever say the phrase “So as I say…” you might want to think hard about this question!
Fretting about things that are not in your control, things that cannot be changed—worrying about something that’s trivial and probably not in your control: “Do you think he was upset? He didn’t look very happy. Do you think he’ll tell her? Should I have served cheese after the meal? Will they ask us back? What if they don’t, what will I say to her when I next see her?” The time spent in fretting can be significant, and remember an hour a week is a week per year!
Talking about the past is often a waste of time because you can’t do anything about it. Your life is all going to be in the future from now on, so spend your time and mental effort thinking about—and talking about—the future rather than the past. Long stories to other people about things that happened in the past are a waste of your time and theirs—unless you’re absolutely sure they want to know about it.
Talking about the future is not as bad as talking about the past, and if you’re planning the future that’s great, but worrying about the future is a waste of time. Make the best plan you can, and then what will be will be.
I think it’s such a big time waster to talk yourself, because you already know all that stuff, so you gain nothing by going over it yet again. Now of course if the other person is asking you tell them then okay, a brief summary is fine, but don’t jump on every opportunity to go into vomit mode all about yourself. Make it a game to not use the word ‘I’ in your next conversation, but ask the other person about them and their work and their issues. You learn more, they’ll like you more, and you’ll probably save at least an hour a week which is another week per year!
So that’s killed off your social life, you’ve probably not got anything to talk about now!
But seriously, chatting is great, but if you’re busy, then shorten the chat and get more done by avoiding my six areas. Which one are YOU going to reduce?
- Click here to listen to the Evolve podcast with Chris Croft.