⌚️ If any of you are still asking your first question and then pausing for a whole 60 seconds, I’m sorry!
Sometimes you will talk with someone who hears your first question and whoa, this is something they’ve been dying to talk about and they’ll give you an answer that keeps going for 20 seconds… 30 seconds… 45 seconds… in that case, yes, keep silent for a full minute.
And if you’re talking to someone who isn’t like that, it’s okay! Most people don’t launch into such detailed answers. You haven’t done anything wrong – this might be a more reserved person, it might be that they’re really going to connect with your second or fifth question.
You do still want to pause – for 10 seconds after they finish their answer. Here’s what that sounds like:
Could you tell me about how you think about planning family vacations?
And most people will give you a pretty short answer, like: well, we look at how everyone’s work and school vacations line up, see how much time we have, and then think about what types of trips fit within our budget.
[mentally count to 5…10]
A lot of the time, you won’t get to 10 before they either keep going, or ask, “is this the kind of thing you’re looking for?”
And you can say, yes, keep going, more detail would be great, and they’ll continue. And more importantly, that exchange gave them renewed confidence that you are there to listen, rather than mostly talking.
Here’s what that sounds like:
I’m not reading a script – those lines weren’t memorized and if I said them again there’d be differences. But I’ve memorized the model, which works in any context. And that’s:
- Confirm that ‘now’ is still a good time
- Use the word ‘exploratory’ or ‘early’
- Use the word ‘people’ or ‘individuals’
- Nothing you say will be boring, I’m here to listen, you’re the expert here
- Invite them to ask me questions
After this point, I may have a list of questions, but the tone and direction of the conversation is going to really vary based on what is important to this person. And that’s exactly as it should be.