There Are Four Types of Talkers

By November 7, 2012Leadership

There are four types of talkers:

  1. Those who talk a lot and say little
  2. Those who talk little and say a lot
  3. Those who talk a lot and hear little
  4. Those who talk little and hear a lot

Which are you?

It may be an unfair question in that we cannot really answer it alone. We need to ask the people we interact with. Now, whether or not they really tell us will be a true test of honesty in our relationship. If we don’t have those who will be open with us, then this is a change to make. Find your accountability souls.

The reality is we likely know.

If we have an ounce of introspection, then we know. To practice introspection, it is taking a moment after a meeting and thinking about how much time each person spent talking and listening. Another test is to write down what we remember each person said, at least the essence of their position or viewpoint. Find your communication style.

What should be our goal?

We should participate as much as necessary to ensure we state our perspectives and ask our questions. We should listen as much as we can to understand each person’s opinions and insights. Find your balance, but be balanced.

The Art of Talking and Listening

This notion fits into the unlife life way. Getting the right mix of talk and untalk is a matter of speaking to gain understanding while listening to increase understanding.

The big “un” is this formula is understanding, and understanding is a key leadership trait to adopt in our workplace and life.

What practices do you use to ensure a balance between talking and listening? Please leave your comments and insights below.


An invitation.

Leading an unlife life has been on my mind a lot lately. And now I’m curious to hear your thoughts on undoing certain things in your life and leadership in order to take on new actions.

Would you consider writing a blog post about the topic? When you do, please send me a link. Each week I will highlight a collection of unlife life thoughts and approaches.

Uncertain how to begin? Check out Susan Mazza’s piece written last week. It was this post that inspired the idea of gathering other viewpoints. Learn more by reading “Live an Unlife Life“.

Thank you.

Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz is one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business and highlighted as one of the Leaders to Watch in 2015 by the American Management Association. He also is the author of Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders. Jon serves as vice president of marketing at Corepoint Health. Outside of his professional life, Jon brings together a community to inspire Millennial leaders and close the gap between two generations of leaders.
Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz

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Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • […] There Are Four Types of Talkers | Thin Difference From – Today, 7:01 AM Are you one who talks a lot and says little? Or, are you one who speak little but says a lot? These are essential leadership questions to answer. […]

  • Randy Conley says:

    Jon – As usual you have given me nuggets of wisdom to ponder. This topic has actually been on my mind lately as I’ve been trying to monitor and regulate my behavior in this area. There are times I come out of meetings thinking that I talked too much and may have not provided the time or space for others to adequately express their opinions.
    It’s not that I don’t value other peoples’ opinions or think that I always know best, it’s more out of a desire to help the group get to its destination rather than being stalled in neutral.
    A quick example – A couple weeks ago in my life group from church, the men got together to have some prayer time. The guy (Brandon) hosting our group is relatively new to leading a group and is pretty quiet and introverted. After a period of awkward silence with no one facilitating the group, I spoke up and started facilitating us through some prayer time. No one was offended that I took the lead, but as I reflected on it on my drive home, I realized that even in my good intention to help the group, I potentially prevented Brandon, or anyone else, from stepping into a leadership role. Perhaps I should have asked the question “Would anyone like to facilitate?” rather than just jumping in and taking the lead.
    Thanks for spurring my thinking. Perhaps this is an area I need to “un” do.

    • Jon M says:

      Randy, Thank you for sharing your story. One of the essential points is that you spent the time to reflect. I believe the worst offenders, in any category, are the ones that don’t spend the time to think about their approach and its impact. I know I think about times when I should have talked more, rather than just listen. It is a balance, but introspection and action provide a great way to enhance what we do! Really appreciate your time and insights! Jon

  • Interesting topic and classification, Jon. My mind couldn’t help but think of scenarios when someone talks a lot and listens a lot, as well as talks little and listens little. That could be a measure of engagement, perhaps? Anyway, as you pointed out, balance is key. As a coach, active listening is critical to my ability to help my clients. I can’t guide them without really hearing what they’re saying–and not saying, which is often where the richness lies. Overall, it’s very much in my nature to listen first, especially in a new setting, as I like to get a good feel for the group dynamics and subtext. As an introvert, I’m perfectly comfortable not saying anything, if talking isn’t necessary, and equally comfortable talking a lot, if that’s expected/appropriate, such as when I’m in the speaker role. The bottom-line is being aware of what the situation requires and adjusting the mix of listening and talking accordingly. Thanks for introducing another interesting topic to chew on! Alice

    • Jon M says:

      Thanks, Alice, for your added insights! You’re right. Adding “talks a lot and listens a lot” would be another type. Your points on situation awareness and active listening are so important to really understanding people. Great additions to the conversation, so thank you! Jon

  • Yes, balance is so important. I am a very good listener. I listen to what is being said and what is not. I listen patiently and wait to respond. It’s so important to truly listen and understand. I have found that most people respond from their own stories and add their own spin and interpretation to something simple, which can blow it out of proportion. This is such a dangerous and harmful game.

    For me, it is important to remain open always. It’s so important to ask for clarity if there might be confusion, and not to judge.

    I have always been a much better listener than talker. But I have grown there, as well. The more sure I have become of who I am, and the more I love and honour myself, the more I have realised that I do need to speak up for myself. I matter as much as much as everyone else.

    I do believe I have developed a “mostly” balanced approach.

    Still working on an un-post. Will send you the link when it’s up my wonderful friend.
    Thank you for the thought-provoking post. 🙂

    • Jon M says:

      Great insights, Shelley! You added an important element, which is listening for what is not said (as well as having patience and several other points!). Being open and seeking clarity are very important, as is listening in between the blank spaces.

      Look forward to your “un” post when you are ready. Thanks again! Jon

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