If I could share 500 words to inspire, this is the important wisdom I'd want to pass along to others...
There is one piece of wisdom that I believe would make this world a better place to live: “Speak briefly, speak warmly, and fill every sentence with kindness, clarity, and optimism.”
We’re all bad communicators, but don’t realize it. The human brain can only absorb about 5-10 words and recall them with any degree of accuracy. That’s one sentence, about 10 seconds. But most people talk for an average of three minutes before pausing. That means that the listener can only recall about 1/20th of what you said, and it is often the wrong 10 words! That’s why, when I teach communication strategies to students, teachers, therapists, attorneys and corporate leaders, we practice the “10-10 Game.”
It’s very easy to learn and it trains your brain to speak more efficiently and effectively in less than ten minutes.
You hold your fists in front of you, raising one finger for each word you speak. But you must fall silent when you run out of fingers! Then you let the other person respond with 10 words as you deeply listen and pay close attention to their facial expression. When I explain this in group workshops, many people seemed shocked!
“It’s not possible,” they say, “I have to explain everything so they can understand me.” Wrong! You must only speak one brief sentence, and then see if the listener is following. If not, why continue?
The 10-10 Game is an experiential exercise, and you’ll discover that your brain can actually convey more meaning with fewer words. Try it with a colleague or a friend or family member tonight. You face each other, raise your fists and begin speaking and counting. The slower you speak the better, and intimacy will quickly develop. Slower speaking also improves neural comprehension in the listener’s brain. It eliminates anxiety and irritability, and it even interrupts attention-deficit symptoms.
When you do this with a 10 year old or an adolescent, the child will love it because they feel that you are really listening to them. Practice the 10-10 game with 3 people and you’ll see that your whole communication style will improve.
Of course, this is just a training exercise, but when it comes to effective speaking and problem solving with others, or in groups, I recommend that you try your best to adhere to the 20-Second “Rule,” speaking for no longer than 20 seconds – and much less when you want to convey a key point or concept. Twenty seconds is about how long it takes to speak two or three sentences, but you’ll still have to count out your words on your fingers until you build the intuitive skill of speaking briefly. Without your fingers, you’ll probably say too much and muddle the effectiveness of your conversation. With them, you can solve problems in a quarter of the time it normally takes. Speaking briefly, with warmth and compassion, will generate inner peace, and when practiced in public it may just bring a little more peace into a world filled with angry words.