Have you ever tried to be polite in a cordial encounter and become entangled in a long dissertation just as you had time-sensitive obligations to meet? Could that particular discussion have possibly been prevented from getting out of hand in the first place? There is an art to being a good listener, as well as an art to knowing how to bow out of a lengthy conversation. It is frustrating to be on the receiving end of either of these situations in a time crunch, leaving you to step out of your current comfort zone and take action to resolve. There is also an art to preventing this from occurring in the first place by taking control of a conversation and instigating brief yet positive discussions. There may be a time and place for long heart-felt communication, but when time is of the essence, be prepared for an upbeat yet to-the-point succinct interaction.
There are many things to be aware of when you are the instigator of a concise conversation. Perhaps you have a quick message you want to share but are pressed for time to share it. Perhaps it’s a sudden unexpected encounter, yet it was one you hoped would occur. Below you will find some suggestions on how to approach these situations.
How to Engage in a Brief Discussion:
- Be aware of your audience. Are you speaking to a boss, peer, employee, friend, or vague acquaintance? Your approach may need to be adjusted slightly depending on your audience. If you are the instigator of the conversation, make it clear from the beginning you would like just a few minutes of their time. If you can convince them you will only take a moment or two, you have set up a likely scenario that they will listen attentively to your brief encounter and really hear your message.
- Be prepared. Know in advance what you wish to speak about and how long your content will take. Make an outline, practice the ideas you wish to present or bring visuals to reach your point quickly. Take the time in advance to make it interesting and inclusive, and as simplified as possible so the other person can easily engage in the conversation and get "tuned in" quickly with all the necessary information you provided.
- Be accountable. If you asked for two minutes of someone’s time, stick to that two-minute mark. If they wish to continue the conversation and you have the time, acknowledge that you said two minutes and ask if they would like to continue the conversation. If you need to go over two minutes, ask for the additional time needed and respect their answer. This holds you accountable to your word and builds integrity. If you need to set up a future meeting or phone call for additional time, then do so.
- Be positive and approachable. Honey goes a lot further than vinegar, so to speak, when engaging in a conversation. Be friendly, interested, and open to a two-way discussion. There is a much greater chance of a successful outcome with the right approach. And be ready to present your information and truly hear what they have to say in response.
- Be open. Be prepared that the other person may not have the time for a discussion as brief as you requested. Do not be confrontational in any way, but rather, take the time and set up an appointment, meeting, or phone call for you to share your information. Or, if they have listened but have an opposing view, be open to their opinion and do not make any quick responses; you may later regret it. Take time to soak in the response if necessary.
Benefits of Being Brief and Upbeat:
- You will never be considered boring. When your conversations are short and sweet, it is just enough to keep the other person interested. It is a good position to be in when you leave the other party wanting a little more on some level.
- You will lead by example. By example alone, others will begin to see how you can be effective with fewer words and hopefully learn to do the same under timely circumstances—a quality of a true leader.
- Your WORDS will be more respected. People will come to realize the words you speak are meaningful and important. You don’t waste words by saying meaningless things to fill the silence.
- YOU will be more respected. Time is one of your most valuable assets; you cannot create more time. But you can manage and make the most of the time you do have. By being brief, you are respecting not only your own time but also the time of others.
- You will be appreciated. Along with respecting time, people appreciate a simple message. As the popular adage states, K-I-S-S (Keep It Simple Stupid). Everyone has so much happening in their own lives, and the simpler a message can be delivered, the better.
- Your positive approach will spread. It is no secret that your attitude or behavior can be infectious. Choose to spread a positive favorable one rather than a negative one. By embracing a positive attitude in these quick encounters, you can spread a positive vibe to those you interact with and others in your surroundings.
Suppose you are the recipient of an encounter and do not have the time to engage in a lengthy conversation. We will discuss methods regarding gracefully disengaging from the conversation in a future blog. In the meantime, use as many of the above techniques to attempt a brief and positive encounter as possible. That may just be enough.
Enjoy the words you speak. Be deliberate and have meaning in them. Smile and be decisive and genuine in these brief interactions. Modulate your voice and use inflection, focus on the other person, be upbeat, and stay on point. Show charisma even in quick interactions, and be interesting and interested. You can make an excellent impression with a few simple well-chosen words.
"The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do."
"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak."
"Conciseness in art is essential and a refinement. The concise man makes one think; the verbose bores. Always work towards conciseness."
What are your thoughts about this topic?
Who will you share this with?