I often watch couples in my office struggle with the ripple effect caused by using a “wall of words’. A wall of words is when a person speaks on and on about an issue, complaint, story, idea or piece of information to such a degree that they lose the attention of the person they are speaking to. Women in particular, struggle with using a wall of words. As a result, the men in their lives end up tuning the women out.
Using a wall of words is not the same as discussing an issue, sharing feelings, having interesting conversations. All of these are healthy forms of communication. When women are using a wall of words it can sound like nervous chatter, restating of the information again and again, random thoughts, berating a point and overall excessive talk. Often the women are aware of this pattern, however, have a difficult time controlling it. If they are not aware of this habit, they often are aware of their partners tuning them out or not listening.
If you have a tendency to speak at great length, ramble or have difficulty getting to the main point, you likely use a wall of words. When women communicate in this way, they weaken their message. The more a woman (or man for that matter) excessively talks, the less the people around them will listen. It becomes too difficult to filter out the important from the frivolous aspects of the information.
If you want to be heard, pay attention to how you speak. If you’re nervous, take some time to gain clarity about your message before you speak it. Once you are ready to speak it, do so in a succinct, lasered fashion. This is especially true regarding issues of upset. Get to the point quickly and make your request directly. Don’t go on and on about what you don’t like. Instead, ask for what you want.
The clearer you are in your speaking, the more people will tune in. If you are tired of people telling you to get to the point, tuning you out, finishing your sentences or interrupting you, then it’s time to look at how you speak. Instead of complaining about how others don’t listen, tune in to how you speak. Your words are important—don’t use them as a wall to keep people at bay.
Challenge: If you struggle with using a wall of words, pay attention to how you speak. Slow yourself down, get clear and say it straight. Make a request if you have one. Share your opinion succinctly. State what is upsetting you in three sentences or less. Then wait. Stay calm and don’t fill in the space with anxious chatter.