During some of my recent coaching sessions, I have both noticed my clients leaning toward wordiness and/or my clients would have to address wordiness in others. Furthermore, part of our work in The Crucible Project is the encouraging of each man to practice clean talk. In other words, avoid story and speak to the point. I had always heard that “less is more”. Now as I coach others in their jobs, and everyday life, I am beginning to understand “clean talk” in a deeper way.
Recently I began re-reading through Ecclesiastes. I ran across this passage and it jumped off the page for me. Ecclesiastes 6:11 “The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?” (NIV) Wow! I began to think about how that applies. I began to observe four major areas of storytelling and wordiness in both others and myself. Here is what I observed:
- The more words, the further from emotion a person moves. When a person tells long stories about why he is feeling the way he is, he begins to take less ownership of his emotion. The story becomes the replacement. The result of this is a passing of responsibility for emotion off on the “cause” of the emotion. Furthermore, telling story insulates the person from some of the pain his emotion may cause. Finally, his story has him thinking about the cause instead of just feeling the emotion. By feeling, he actually has more control over the emotion than thinking gives him. Once he has felt the emotion, then he is able to control the feeling in a balanced way.
- The more words, the further from truth a person moves. When a person tells a long story, she begins to defend rather than own her choices and their consequences. As she owns her choices and lives in truth, many times she begins to feel some sort of shame or exposure. People may react to her openness and truth. Therefore, she begins to tell the back-story and defend her choices. This can send her down a road of justification, blame, and projection. Furthermore, because of this cycle of wordiness, defensiveness, and projection, she does not live as her authentic self.
- The more words, the more a person is trying to convince himself. People who are repeating their beliefs repeatedly are not convinced yet. A person has studied, read, or heard about something that lands. She believes what she hears, but is not totally convinced or does not know how to apply it to life yet. Sometimes this shows up in sales. The sales representative may only be working a job and/or is inexperienced. A recent example for me was a conversation with my wife about a work scenario. In her business, her company deals with many vendors. She was telling me about one particular vendor who talked too much. Every time her and/or her partners asked a question, he replied with a lot of repetitive information and never really answered their questions. She felt something just was not right with this presentation. I noticed right away that his wordiness was this vendor trying to convince himself. They sensed his lack of confidence in his wordiness. He did not get a contract with them. The more words, use, the less convinced a person is (at the core) and she does not live authentically.
- Lack of preparation creates unnecessary wordiness. You have seen it before. The presentation drags on and on seemingly or literally for a long time. The presenter seems to repeat himself…or, quite possibly, you have not prepared enough and you are “talking out” your presentation. A deadline has not been met and you get (or give) a long discourse and/or a litany of excuses as to why this deadline was missed.
So, how does one move forward?
First, feel your emotion. This does not mean act out said emotion for the world to see. However, we must acknowledge we have them or they will control us. When you feel, report your feelings with little to no context. There is no need for lengthy back-story. If someone is curious, then he can ask. It is somewhat narcissistic of a person to think that everyone wants to hear his story.
Second, own your truth and consequences. There is no need for you to explain your reasoning behind what you chose to do. Again, if someone is curious, then she can ask. The question for you after you accept your truth and consequences is, “How do I live in truth going forward?” You can rest in the fact that you are who you are as a created being. Your choices do not necessarily define who you are.
Third, stand in certainty of what you believe. Whether you are selling, marketing, or living as a good person, stand in certainty of who you are. Instead of talking about what you believe, live it out. When I was coaching sports teams, I used to tell those coaching with me, “Never allow me to where a shirt that says, ‘Coach’ on it.” If those around me did not know I was the coach, then I had no business coaching. There is no need for us to use story to convince people who we are.
Finally, preparation is key. Yes, sometimes we run out of time and do not prepare enough. However, this is truly rare. Spend time preparing so that your words are concise and to the point. Do not waste the time of others by not preparing.
Where in your life do you tend to be too wordy or feel compelled to tell the “back-story”? Where are you denying or ignoring your emotion? Where are you avoiding your truth? In what ways are, you not convinced about what you believe? Over the next few days, pay attention to and meditate on Ecclesiastes 3:7b “…a time to be silent and a time to speak…” (NIV)
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