Using Too Many Words?

In 1657, Blaise Pascal apologized for the extravagant length of a four page letter, “Please excuse the length of this letter. I had not the time to make it one page.”

Pascal was famous for comprising much in few words and his note was quite memorable, making it into several books and other people’s messages.

Where are you using too many words?

Do you see how it could be working against you?

In a recent team session:

“What’s your 2 Word Check-in today?” Joe asked, kicking off the team call.

“Well, it’s been a crazy morning. I had a customer call me from a Michigan plant and I was just up there last week. Can you hear me?…”

“Yeah, we can…..”

“And then I had another customer show up…”

“Kevin, that’s about 20 words. We don’t want to hear about your morning. We’re asking you for your 2 Words.” Joe interrupted, trying his best to keep Kevin focused.

Travis, still oblivious, said, “Oh yeah, the 2 Word Check-in. Well, I guess I would have to…”

I was sitting in on a team call, observing so I could provide feedback and guidance for the team. Shaking my head, I hit the mute button on the phone.

“Joe, you’re using a lotta words to help Kevin STOP using a lotta words. You’re not getting your point across and you’re not helping him recognize his pattern and this call is getting away from you. You are the facilitator.

“Travis. Two. Words,” I piped in firmly and clearly to get his attention quickly.

“Oh,” said Travis. (pause) “Scattered, Stressed.”

Joe’s eyes lit up and he smiled, nodding. He got it.

This dynamic isn’t unusual. We have several clients who haven’t recognized that their habit of using a lot of words is working against them—in their personal performance and in their leadership with others.

Using too many words also:

  • dilutes your message
  • causes confusion
  • says, “I’m not confident”
  • wastes time

Where are two places you’re using too many words? Who could you enlist for support? How could she hold you accountable as you practice?

A major part of what we do as leadership and communication advisors is to help our clients turn off auto-pilot and become conscious, creative communicators.

Want to become more effective at influencing others?

Use fewer words.