It Takes Two… At Least

Time is precious.  Concise is good.  Email is seemingly giving way to tweets of 140 characters or less.  Conversations are quick because often we are driving while conducting them.  We leave brief messages at the tone on voice mail.  Short and to the point.  Nice.

A short two words, concise as they may be, can lead us to quite different places.  Not so nice.  What is at risk when we employ such welcomed brevity?

Consider this example: you are at your favorite brewpub and you ask your cool waiter for a glass of water.  He points to a water station at the end of the bar and says: “help yourself.”  Now is that the “of-course, we-have-plenty-of-delicious-water-we-would-love-to-share-with-you.  Have-as-much-as-you-wish” response or the “its-over-there-Lady. I-am-not-helping-you. Help-yourself” response?

Two words.  Two different worlds potentially.

Meetings are riddled with two word treasures.  Among my favorites: “that’s interesting.” Context possibility #1: “ Wow.  I find that idea fascinating.  Tell me more.” Context possibility #2: “Bud, there is not a sliver of hope in hell of that idea going anywhere ever.  Next…”

Two words.  Possibility or dead end?

Speaking of possibility or dead end… how about the classic two words: “I do”?  Hmmmmm.  Let’s not go there now.  Too much to tackle there and, after all, I am trying to be concise.

Yes.  We are busy, bombarded with stimuli every waking minute.  We don’t have much time for elaborate conversation.  The world is on the move and we are all moving with it.  Short and to the point is how we roll.

So how can we put our two words out there and have them reflect our intention?  How do we know what is intended when we hear those two words?

How do you do it?

4 Responses to “It Takes Two… At Least”

  1. Mary T. Davis Says:

    Meaning can be lost with brevity. When I go brief, I do it with folks I know can take it, in fact they appreciate it. It works particularly well for congratulations. i.e. “Awesome” “Incredible.” It also works well to cut time wasted on useless work chatter “your point?” “gotta go” “what’s next?”.

    What clients, prospects, and colleagues seem to really appreciate is concise communication. If I “begin with the end in mind,” I tend to use fewer words and deliver more value.

  2. Ronnie Noize Says:

    Great article, Sue! My favorite two-word phrase: Thank you.

  3. Raymond Belt Says:

    great thoughts… and I 100% agree with “thank you” — kind of hard to misinterpret that one!

    //ray

  4. Craig Stevens Says:

    Great article, well said coach! My fav is “what else?”. It ignites a bevy of discussions that share ownership and responsibility with my partner in discussion. I have learned more about what is possible, challenging myself & others to further tap in on the unknown!

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