April 8, 2012 fm

Too Doesn’t Equal Less Plus More

Do you like to hear that you are too late? Or that your speech was too long? Or that you spoke too fast?

Welcome to the club of too-haters. Most of us despise the t-double-o word. Yet, we use it all the time ourselves.

Every time someone gives too-feedback in my seminars, I intervene right away. Imagine a 46-year-old lady with short bruinette hair giving a speech. She has poise, she uses great hand gestures, she whirls her content into a metaphorical blanket. But – there is one thing that makes her audience move nervously on their chairs. She speaks like an AK47. No period, no comma, a verbal hurricane.

The feedback round starts. Together – as a group – we acknowledge her poise, her hand gestures, her rhetorical devices. Then, a middle-aged man with rudiments of grayish hair mentions that, “She spoke too fast.”

Boom, that’s it. I see it in the face of that lady. An awkward smile. An awkward smile saying, “Who the f*** do you think you are, boldie?”

Now – imagine the same scene with the gentleman saying, “You could have paced down a bit. Then I could have followed your speech more easily. You could have included more pauses as well. Apart from causing more drama and suspense, these pauses would’ve helped you to breathe more deeply.”

This feedback that lady would have accepted. I could’ve seen it in her face. Too does not equal less plus more. Too is destructive. Less and more are constructive.

Next time you give feedback to a colleague, employee or friend and you say “too fast”, “too slow”, “too extensive” – take a look at the face of the feedback receiver. If you see that awkward smile, it’ll be time to switch to less and more.

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