Thank You for Not Talking: A Guide for Serious Marketers

By Brooke B. Sellas, {grow} Contributing Columnist

I’m a loud person. Get a few drinks in me and I’m downright obnoxious.

But in a business setting, there is a certain etiquette I always abide by — even though SO MANY others don’t.

The amount of ‘conversation domination’ that’s going on these days is downright embarrassing. Or at least it should be.

The communication guide I’m laying out in this post will help you be a better communicator. And what marketer doesn’t need that?!

It’s time for a rant.

Active Listening Is Lacking

Our world is supremely noisy. Your mobile device is likely blowing up constantly with pings, bells, buzzes, notifications, reminders, and 20 email pop-ups per hour.

I get it.

But when someone else is talking, your phone shouldn’t be the center of attention. I don’t even think it should be within arm’s reach.

This includes

  • Meetings (virtual included)
  • Lunches/Dinner/Coffee
  • Events

My personal communication guide underscores events as a place to listen more than talk.

I recently attended two marketing events where people in the front row were totally engrossed in their phones rather than giving the stage to the person on the stage.

And one of these people was a fellow speaker … a “friend” of the woman giving her life story on stage! Talk about dismissive.

I’m on a roll …

And stop interrupting people.

Not only is it rude, it shows you’re not actually listening, rather you’re waiting for your turn to speak.

I think we can all benefit from truly learning how we can position ourselves into an active listening stance.

This is a deep mode of thought and concentration; phones and interruptions mean you are nowhere close to being an active listener.

You’re Not Open-Minded If …

Things are very polarized these days. Especially online.

According to Sprout Social, Nearly half (46%) of people have used social media to “call out” or complain about a business.


And while disagreements are a part of our world we could all do better in handling sticky situations with more grace.

When there is dissension, active listening needed more than ever.

Instead, I see others disagreeing with different viewpoints, speaking their mind, and judging the person/situation without all of the facts.

I’m not finished yet.

In a perfect world, the ‘Marketer’s Communication Guide’ would say,

  • It’s important to understand complaints, rants, and bad reviews
  • You must care about other’s viewpoints
  • Rather than offering a counterpoint right away, first seek to understand
  • Conflict is certainly hard, but it’s better to stay silent than fuel the fire

It can be uncomfortable to deal with emotions — especially if they seem unwarranted or out of place.

But guess what?

Silence is often okay here too since most people just want to be heard.

Acknowledging pain and fessing up when you mess up should be much easier for brands and marketers to do. And doing it shouldn’t involve lengthy remarks.

Group Gaffes

When I think back on some of the best brainstorming sessions I’ve ever been a part of, guess what most of them have in common?

Periods of long silence.

For some marketers, the silence is too deafening and they feel the need to fill the silence.

Don’t do this!

The quiet times are indicative of deep thought, reflection, and critical thinking. Which is exactly what you need when putting your heads together.

Silence is an incredible leadership tool when used correctly.

The Marketer’s Communication Guide

Overall, my ‘Marketer’s Communication Guide’ would be extremely short and sweet (imagine that!).

  1. Active listening means you’re being QUIET
  2. Phones have nothing to do with face-to-face conversation
  3. Being open-minded requires fewer counterpoints and more deep listening
  4. Good communicators (and marketers) don’t engage in ‘conversation domination’
  5. Silence is the perfect leadership tool — especially when thinking as a group

Although these ‘5 rules to remember’ seem easy enough, it seems we’re moving further and further away from following this advice.

What’s your take on my communication guide? Is there anything you’d add or remove? Let me know in the comments section below!

Brooke Ballard for {grow}Brooke B. Sellas is an in-the-trenches digital marketer & CEO at B Squared Media, blossoming blogger, and a purveyor of psychographics. Her mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout on Twitter.


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