Dovetailing off of the George Lois quote that I wrote about yesterday, I’m tacking on some more thoughts about communication today. 

I do believe it’s great advice to think long and write short, because it gets to the point, and I think that it also cuts out the ego. However, sometimes I think we function in the reverse: think short, write/talk long. It’s long been my belief that we love our own stock. So much so that in some cases we love to hear ourselves speak and we end up giving long-winded, unnecessary thoughts or responses to whatever topic we’re addressing. In my youth I was probably just as guilty of this as the next guy, but I think it’s something worth truly considering when you think about how you communicate with others. Whether it’s written or verbal, I find myself asking, “Is this to the point, or am I having trouble landing this plane?” Or, quite simply, “Do I know enough to even give a meaningful response?” More often than not I do find myself having issues in landing the plane and so I scrap whatever it is that I’m writing. I get frustrated, delete it, walk away. Totally unaccomplished. Time totally wasted. Super. And, truthfully, what value is there in speaking about a topic of with you have little to no real working knowledge of? 

I’m willing to guess I’m not alone on this subject. I’m also probably not alone in my thoughts that for some it’s just a matter of ego and love for one’s own speaking voice that is the culprit. Other times it could even be this weird defense mechanism whereby the rambler is merely trying to cover for the fact that they know nothing about the topic. And, so, they just end up talking you in a circle so that you’ve been on such a long, winding journey of bloviation that you no longer remember what the original topic was. I’ve witnessed this, many times. And, if I’m being honest, it’s always fun to then bluntly restate the original question or point. But then it’s not a lot of fun because you the same silly response.

As I’ve grown older and struggled with the idea of being succinct or to the point, I’ve found communication less complicated. But, I’ve also lost patience with unnecessarily long answers or responses–from myself and others. If you’ve thought long and hard about it, it probably shouldn’t be all that difficult to get right to the point and deliver with clarity. Or, if you don’t know, just say go with that response. I don’t know. It’s surprising liberating to not know the answer to something and avoid giving some half-cocked, under-informed answer.

Don’t use seven words when four will do.