eww...verbal diarrhea is so not cool (seriously dude, it's not a good look)

I should start this post by coming clean. I am so guilty of this that my picture should probably be next to the definition in Webster's Dictionary. 

It is because of the fact that I am basically an expert in this that I can give advice on why it is just not cool. First, let me explain. Verbal diarrhea sounds pretty gross. It is supposed to. You have experienced it before I'm sure. It is when someone feels they have to speak about everything and they just keep talking and adding so much information that it causes a mental overload in the people who are listening. Once they are done talking, you actually feel like they just threw up (their words) all over you and now you want to take a shower because you just feel gross.

One of my motto's has always been to stand up, speak up; stand out, speak out. so you can imagine why this one might be a struggle for me. In the workplace there are generally three types of people in a conference room.

  • the person who diligently takes notes and nods their head from time to time but says very little

  • the person who participates sparingly and calculated, waiting first for what the boss and everyone is going to say

  • then there are the people that have to speak so bad that they sometimes have to sit on their hands to stop themselves from jumping in

that's me

yes I like to talk and yes I have a perspective and opinion and I suppose I just feel like if I don't say anything nobody will know that. This by the way is perfectly normal and acceptable. When it gets to be too much is when it starts to backfire against you. I am also very fond of the saying

You don't have to tell everyone, everything.

I am fond of it because it is something I need to be reminded of constantly. When you tell everyone everything some interesting stuff starts to come to the surface

  • you start to become the white noise in the room

  • they stop thinking what you have to say is important or valuable to the discussion because you couldn't possibly have an opinion on everything and be right

  • people start to get antagonistic just to see if they can get you rattled

  • it doesn't create a collaborative environment

  • other group members will back up, not wanting to delve in to the discussion that you may be so passionate about for fear of getting cut off

  • you may go one step too far in what you say and kill your whole case

How does a serial verbal up-chucker move past their tendencies? 

Like most things in life, this has a simple solve. Let me explain.  Most people enter a meeting room with some sort of agenda. You want the other people in the room to buy into your idea, appreciate the work you put into something or help you get something off the ground. When you have verbal diarrhea, you come in hot, guns blazing for battle. This is before you even know if a battle is necessary, it puts people on edge.

If you prepare for the battle, however, things go differently. Understand what your goals are going to be before you head in to your next meeting, ask yourself one or more of the following questions:

have i eaten yet?

I know you're laughing at this but it's like the Snickers commercial says; "you're not yourself when you're hungry". If you're going to get people to collaborate with you then you need to be on your A game, so get something in your belly. Besides, food is amazing so why wouldn't you want to be eating all the time? 

It is also good to be well hydrated and have used the restroom, this might take a while.


who do i expect will be in the room & who do i expect will object to what i am bringing to the table?

This is sort of a "know your allies", "know your enemies" kind of approach. There is nothing worse than going to battle in the boardroom and watching someone switch sides in the middle. It throws you off you game and is often difficult to recover from so know who you are going up against. Know their arguments, position and where they are vulnerable or open to suggestion.


what is your point? what is your ultimate takeaway?

the things that almost always accompanies verbal diarrhea is panic, fear, a bad feeling in your stomach that you aren't being heard or not being understood. What if that is your own fault? What if you didn't come in with a clear idea and path to explain your position? You think that you are prepared but are you really? I will admit, I am an extremely passionate person. I will fight to the death for what I believe in with high emotions and vigor. That being said I have been in situations where someone came back with some good counterpoints and I was there with my mouth open and nothing coming out because they stumped me. I under estimated the objections to what I was bringing to the table and then wasn't prepared to argue against them. Rookie Mistake.

I guess what I am really trying to say here in WAY TOO MANY WORDS...(hard habit to break), is be aware and keep the following in mind...

  • be aware of your surroundings

  • know who you are going after

  • know what you really want to happen

  • know when you have lost your audience

  • know that sometimes silence is best

I realize I am trying to blog for the masses, but I will readily admit that this one is for me. Everyone has a journey and if you're lucky it takes a long time to get to the end. Make sure you are enjoying the view and course correcting along the way.