Marta Adelsman Column: Brevity

It's always humbling when I fail to use one of the tools that I teach - and I get caught!

Last week, I called my sister-in-law, Carole, to discuss a date when she could come over for dinner. I launched into a litany of why Wednesday, Thursday and Friday wouldn't work. Before I could get into why the weekend wouldn't work either and that the earliest date available would be next Monday, she interrupted me and said, "Just tell me when it will work for you."

I sensed that her statement, though delivered gently, carried some frustration behind it.

Carole and I discussed this conversation a few days later. As we unpacked its dynamics, I felt "busted." I took the only graceful option and confessed to Carole that I had forgotten all about the conversation tool of Brevity. I had gone into unnecessary story and had given unsolicited information. Carole didn't need to hear my explanation. She just needed to know the bottom line.

Brevity is defined as getting to that bottom line quickly in your conversations. It's about staying out of the story and the unnecessary explanations (unless asked). It involves attention to conciseness, clarity, and speaking to the point.

The incident caused me to review this little tool in my mind. As I did so, I recalled that it packs a powerful punch.

Did you know that brevity may cut meeting time by 25-50 percent? If everyone in a meeting agrees to use this tool, speaking concisely and making their point succinctly, the meeting would most likely end sooner. For companies and organizations, less time spent in meetings frees employees and volunteers to engage in activities that increase productivity, service, and even the financial bottom line.

Interpersonally, brevity increases the respect that others have toward you. When you have a reputation for speaking clearly and to the point, others will more readily listen to you. If you go on and on verbally, you increase the likelihood that people will tune you out. If you notice that others' eyes glaze over when you speak, incorporate brevity!

If I had utilized brevity and simply asked Carole, "How does next Monday work for you to come over for dinner," I could have avoided putting her through the frustration of listening to my excuses about why it wouldn't work sooner. And I would have given her the message that I'm respectful of her time.

I'll practice brevity right now and end this column here, because I've related to you all that I have to say.

Besides, it's Monday - and I need to shop for dinner with Carole tonight!

Dr. Marta practices in the Verde Valley as a Life Coach in Communication and Consciousness. She utilizes a sliding scale in this challenging economy. To contact her, write drmartacoach@gmail.com or call (928) 451-9482.

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