Slow is Smooth

Years ago, a boss used to tell me “slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” Lately, I’ve been thinking about how much his concise logic applies to our communication today. In the long run, slow but thoughtful communication usually is much “faster” than quick and expedient communication.

Slow communication provides four big conversational benefits:

1. It provides an opportunity for self-correction. People have a remarkable ability to self-correct—but they must be given the space to do so. Fast-moving conversations don’t provide the vital opportunity that people need in order to reconsider their words and, perhaps, circle back with an apology or a clarification.

2. It allows the modern brain to get in front of the lizard brain. Quick conversations squeeze thoughtfulness out of interactions. But thoughtfulness is what distinguishes civilized conversations—based on mutual restraint and containment—from communication that’s likely to cause harm to underlying relationships. Your own experience will verify this. Think back on your most destructive conversations, and you will invariably recall that the damage unspooled quickly.

3. It prevents many time-draining issues from ever materializing. Most of us are quite familiar with the problems that expedient communication causes: a hasty email requires ten times as long to correct, a quick text message that was supposed to inform confuses instead, and a social media post that we thought about for seconds ends up haunting us for hours (or longer). It can often take quite a bit of time to recover from fast communication.

4. It provides a vital conversational ingredient. A crucial element often goes missing from expedient communication: understanding. But without understanding, there’s no communication. Just because we hit send doesn’t mean that the other person understands.

When our words get in front of our thinking, damage is seldom far behind. Slow communication protects what matters most—our underlying relationships—from unnecessary conversational damage.

For dozens of practical strategies to improve your conversations with the people who matter most, buy a copy of Stop Talking, Start Communicating today.

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