I recently noticed the same thing happening in three different settings: at a nice restaurant last weekend with friends, at Q’doba for lunch by myself yesterday, and at a coffee shop with a friend…one person at a table being held hostage by another motor mouth across the table.


You’ve seen it, I’ve seen it, heck – I’ve been that motor mouth many times before. For some reason this week when I noticed it, my empathy for the hostage started to grow.

As I was thinking about these poor hostages I starting thinking about some advice I received a month ago. Jackie is a participant in an ongoing leadership development program, and she asked me if I had ever heard of the W.A.I.T. model. I hadn’t so she shared that W.A.I.T stands for: Why Am I Talking?

W.A.I.T stands for Why Am I Talking?

The context of our conversation was around coaching people who may not be aware of their rambling or incessant need to be heard. She said that she often just writes WAIT on a piece of paper and asks them to stop, think, and answer, “Why am I talking?”

Try this today. Go back over the last 5 times you spoke and answer the WAIT question. Going forward, when you aren’t sure if you should speak up, ask the WAIT question. Perhaps your answers are good, perhaps they are not so good, and perhaps you have no answer. No matter your answer, asking the question has great value.

This is a great reminder and one that for me, is awfully convicting. I get paid to talk, I am rewarded by talking, I enjoy talking. And – I realize not everyone wants to hear what I have to say. There are some great quotes that make this point well.

“Speak only if it improves upon the silence.” Mahatma Gandhi
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Abraham Lincoln
“Silence is golden when you can’t think of a good answer.” Muhammad Ali
“Silence is a source of great strength.” Lao Tzu

The purpose of this post isn’t to silence you, it is to bring greater value to the moments you do speak. The next time you find yourself rambling or talking with no real clear purpose, just ask the question:

Why am I talking?

Lead well, lead often & LEAD STRONG.