Power Players

Ray Dalio: Be careful of 'fast talkers' — they're trying to bulldoze you

Ray Dalio, billionaire and founder of Bridgewater Associates LP, speaks during the Bridge Forum in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, April 16, 2019. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Billionaire Ray Dalio, who founded Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world with $160 billion in assets under management, is known for his belief in "radical transparency" in communications and decision-making.

As part of his trademark communication style, Dalio advises to beware fast talkers.

"Fast talkers are people who articulately and assertively say things faster than they can be assessed as a way of pushing their agenda past other people's examination or objections," Dalio tweeted in August.

TWEET: Fast talkers

It's an idea Dalio discusses in his book, "Principles: Life and Work."

"Fast talking can be especially effective when it is used against people worried about appearing stupid," Dalio writes.

Don't let yourself be manipulated by the tactic, he says.

"Recognize that it is your responsibility to make sense of things and don't move on until you do. If you're feeling pressured, say something like, 'Sorry for being stupid, but I'm going to need to slow you down so I can make sense of what you're saying,'" Dalio recommends. "Then ask your questions. All of them."

Dalio gives other recommendations for keeping discussions productive in addition to slowing down fast-talkers. For example, he suggests a "two-minute rule" to avoid "persistent interruptions."

With the two-minute rule, each person in the conversation is ensured two uninterrupted minutes to explain their point of view before anyone else jumps in with their own thoughts or opinion.

"This ensures that everyone has time to fully crystallize and communicate their thoughts without worrying they will be misunderstood or drowned out by a louder voice," Dalio says.

Clear communication is a critical component of Dalio's overarching framework for running Bridgewater Associates, which he says is an "idea meritocracy," or an organization where all opinions are heard and the best idea wins, no matter who it came from.

TWEET: An idea meritocracy

"Thoughtful disagreement — the process of having a quality back-and-forth in an open-minded and assertive way so as to see things through each other's eyes — is more powerful because it helps both parties see things they've been blind to," Dalio writes in "Principles." "But it's not easy."

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