There are often things that people don’t know about themselves that hold them back. A common example is when a person tries to “add value” to virtually every discussion.
He was a full professor at the university of himself. James Finnegan
I’m sure you know people like this. They thrive on sharing their personal opinions and showcasing their knowledge. It is as if they believe that they are the smartest people in the room. It’s a real turnoff.
So, are “experts” coachable? Can they gain insight and change their behaviors?
Our answer is “probably.” There are some people who just won’t get it. In fact, when a person consistently does not gain personal insight and denies that he has a problem in coming across as an “expert,” he may have a “personality disorder.” People with personality disorders can change – but change is often difficult. They may need to get help from a therapist who specializes in personality disorders.
Most people who talk too much or come across as experts are coachable! In fact, in our experience, many of them are shocked when they first realize that they dominate conversations, are not inclusive enough of others, and appear to lack in humility. They don’t want to be this way!
Leaders who “add too much value” can even affect co-workers’ commitment to a path forward. In our experience, when these leaders discover that they are having an adverse effect on their workplace and co-workers, they usually want to change!
“Talking too much” or coming across as an “expert” is a deeply ingrained behavior. Most coaches or therapists would be very happy if a client had a sudden breakthrough and automatically changed this behavior! However, it is probably more realistic to expect that change will occur gradually.
One way to speed up personal insight about how one comes across as an “expert” is through 360 Feedback. The 360 Feedback questions can be tailored so that respondents will provide targeted input:
- How frequently does (person’s name) offer his opinion when issues are being discussed by his team?
- How often does (person’s name) share his knowledge or expertise in team meetings?
- Would you say that (person’s name) shares his opinions or expertise more often or less often than other team members?
Even if 360 Feedback is not available, a coach can help a client speed up the process of obtaining personal insight by asking similar self-assessment questions. If a client acknowledges that his pattern is to speak more than others, a coach can probe deeper. The next questions a coach might ask could be about the possible impact of his behaviors:
- What impact might it have on other team members when you share opinions and expertise so frequently?
- How might this behavior affect how others feel about you?
- How might this behavior shut down the willingness (or ability) of your team members to engage in discussions?
- What can you do to change this behavior?
Marshall Goldsmith, a prominent executive coach, wrote a book entitled What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. He lists “Adding too much value” as one of twenty egregious everyday behaviors that make the workplace more obnoxious than it needs to be. We agree!
It can be challenging at times to talk “just enough” and not come across as full of yourself. Yet, it’s important to gain personal insight about how you come across to others and to make changes, if needed. It can pay big dividends!
- What do you think that you would hear if you asked friends, loved ones or co-workers about how much you tend to share your opinions and expertise?
- At your next social gathering, make it a point to be aware of how much you tend to talk compared to how much others talk. Pay particular attention to how frequently you offer opinions or share your knowledge on various subjects.
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