Friday, December 14, 2007

1Cor13: say less, be heard more

How many people do you know who have an ON button? I'm one of them.

A year ago if you brushed against it accidentally you might get "an inspirational speech", accompanied by "appropriate gestures" and "stage right/center/left focus points", along with snippets of "jargon" and a liberal sprinkling of "wacky metaphors". It was almost a game show trick. On a good day, I could fire off 30 minutes without blinking an eye.

A month ago you might have had to hit the button a few times, but you'd have gotten much the same result.

Yesterday I was asked to say a few words at a meeting of our extended management team. I opened with "I'm going to try to be a model of restraint and limit my comments to introducing the members of the team." I made a single point, then passed the ball to my colleagues.

When they were done, I thanked them, and reiterated the single point I made in my opening comments by means of a conclusion.

It was the most effective talk I think I've ever given. And one of the shortest.

Today someone I work with whose opinion I value told me, "you said less, and you were heard more".  

In 2008 there are three aspects of "less is more" that I'm going to be paying very close attention to. The management consultants call them "Communication", "Feedback" and "Consensual". In Bob-speak they mean "speak clearly, respond thoughtfully, and listen actively".

But the deeper challenge is this - I think I've been speaking in the tongues of mortals and angels for years, and all this time I haven't realized I've been coming across as a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

It's a sensation that is equal parts humbling, depressing and inspiring. I'll have more for you later.

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