Fast talking Slow thinking

MY WHOLE LIFE

I have been a fast talker, from the moment sentences formed in my mind I spat them out like machinegun fire, why, why ,what if, why not, the list was endless. It was this ADHD approach that made my mother fear educating me, as because she was giving me the information I expected her to know why, fair enough eh?

This rapid approach to thinking was a precursor to how I approached conversations and especially education. I always had an answer, it didn’t matter whether you thought it was Right or Wrong as I had the ability to take either side. I could argue for one day and against the next.

In my mind Right and Wrong were simply concepts based on your belief, which made formal education difficult as debate didn’t seem to be encouraged. In my mind I was always Right because if you could show me a different view that made logical sense I was happy to move to that perspective.

We get way too hung up on believing something is Right or Wrong, it is simply a belief held at a particular point in time and will undoubtedly be proven untrue at another.

SO ARMED WITH THIS BEHAVIOUR

I applied it to my business view, and what popped up was selling. I was a natural, able to argue against whatever point you thought would put me off, “over coming all objections” was the rule of selling in the seventies, and all it required was the ability to argue, and all that requires is the ability to think fast….right.

I took this well honed behavior into business as an employee, when in discussions or meetings I always had an answer and to make matters worse I was a bully to go with it.

Not in any physical way but in a verbal way and what was worse, I was rewarded for it. Crazy eh, being the loudest most persuasive forceful voice so often influences the room.

Now things get interesting when the group has two people with this type of personality. But our business world has been hijacked by the American way of doing business, break the year down in to quarters and measure against that.

So companies have been forced to embrace speed, and quick answers are good answers….right? and in this rush to respond we have sown the seeds of our demise. Fast thinking is being taken out of our hands by the new fast, I mean real fast, computing power and AI are moving question answering to a new level.

And what’s more is they are way more accurate, not emotionally attached, they don’t bring bias or fear to their decisions, if you want fast answers a computer is the way to go.

Maybe, because in my belief that speed was king I was under the self delusion that I was a fast thinker able to have an answer before I had even thought about it, answers appeared as if by magic.

AND THEN ONE DAY

something happened, just a simple thing, a quick response to an email, write….send, done. But when I got up for a coffee and walked around a bit I realised that my response had been weak and the more I thought about it the more I realised that the person reading it would be far from impressed,

To late it was gone, and right at that point I made a pact with myself, any email response that had real consequences I would get up and walk around, have a coffee, talk to someone, anything to put some space between write and….send.

After a while I noticed that I was making better decisions, released from the pressure of being fast I actually started to talk to myself, even arguing with myself before I wrote things, sometimes I wouldn’t press send till the next day.

I started to realise that even though I had always had an answer with a little bit more time I had a much more thoughtful and considered answer ….I had been Wrong, power beats speed every time.

And so when I started consulting, running workshops on selling and communication and change I made it a point to create a space for the power thinkers. I realised that the thoughtful and shy and unsure people in the room may well have a far better idea if given a chance than to just hear the voice of the loud and fast.

Which brings me to the point .

If you want a great discussion and some real thinking inside you business then give people a chance to think, maybe have two sessions instead of one so the power thinkers can go home and mull it for the night, make a place that supports those less forceful so they can bring their wisdom to the table. Don’t be in a hurry for the answer, and be prepared to change if a bit later a better one comes along.

The world is changing and we need to change our mantra, we need to bring back the skills of philosophy, we need to be embracing psychology and teaching the soft skills that are the real future for business. The loud pushy, overcoming the objections way of getting our point across is gone, its emotional connection that persuades us, not speed.

And for all the fast thinkers out there next time you go to hit send….get up walk around, go home think about it, then come back the next day and hit send. If you are having a conversation then say, that sounds fantastic I will get back to you………

Chances are that if you are like me you will alter something, and you will be the better off for it.

As usual if you have an opinion please express it……just pause before you hit send.

About Nick

I don't say things to be liked I say them because I mean them. Reputation doesn't come from being liked it comes from standing for something.

3 Responses to Fast talking Slow thinking

  1. James O'Hare October 10, 2017 at 8:36 pm #

    Hi Nick,
    You are right but and incidentally, many other great people have thought the same way….because not only have I said or written the wrong answer but often written in haste and wrecked a relationship or venture….
    I first read about Lincoln in How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and I read it again a few years ago an interesting article from the New York Times… this illustrates that with the advent of faster communication mediums comes faster ways to write fast without thinking…

    The Lost Art of the Unsent Angry Letter
    By MARIA KONNIKOVAMARCH 22, 2014

    WHENEVER Abraham Lincoln felt the urge to tell someone off, he would compose what he called a “hot letter.” He’d pile all of his anger into a note, “put it aside until his emotions cooled down,” Doris Kearns Goodwin once explained on NPR, “and then write: ‘Never sent. Never signed.’ ” Which meant that Gen. George G. Meade, for one, would never hear from his commander in chief that Lincoln blamed him for letting Robert E. Lee escape after Gettysburg.

    Lincoln was hardly unique. Among public figures who need to think twice about their choice of words, the unsent angry letter has a venerable tradition. Its purpose is twofold. It serves as a type of emotional catharsis, a way to let it all out without the repercussions of true engagement. And it acts as a strategic catharsis, an exercise in saying what you really think, which Mark Twain (himself a notable non-sender of correspondence) believed provided “unallowable frankness & freedom.”

    Harry S. Truman once almost informed the treasurer of the United States that “I don’t think that the financial advisor of God Himself would be able to understand what the financial position of the Government of the United States is, by reading your statement.” In 1922, Winston Churchill nearly warned Prime Minister David Lloyd George that when it came to Iraq, “we are paying eight millions a year for the privilege of living on an ungrateful volcano out of which we are in no circumstances to get anything worth having.” Mark Twain all but chastised Russians for being too passive when it came to the czar’s abuses, writing, “Apparently none of them can bear to think of losing the present hell entirely, they merely want the temperature cooled down a little.”

    But while it may be the unsent mail of politicians and writers that is saved for posterity, that doesn’t mean that they somehow hold a monopoly on the practice. Lovers carry on impassioned correspondence that the beloved never sees; family members vent their mutual frustrations. We rail against the imbecile who elbowed past us on the subway platform.

    Personally, when I’m working on an article with an editor, I have a habit of using the “track changes” feature in Microsoft Word for writing retorts to suggested editorial changes. I then cool off and promptly delete the comments — and, usually, make the changes. (As far as I know, the uncensored me hasn’t made it into a final version.)

    In some ways, little has changed in the art of the unsent letter since Lincoln thought better of excoriating Meade. We may have switched the format from paper to screen, but the process is largely the same. You feel angry. And you construct a retort — only to find yourself thinking better of taking it any further. Emotions cooled, you proceed in a more reasonable, and reasoned, fashion. It’s the opposite of the glib rejoinder that you think of just a bit too late and never quite get to say.

    But it strikes me that in other, perhaps more fundamental, respects, the art of the unsent angry letter has changed beyond recognition in the world of social media. For one thing, the Internet has made the enterprise far more public. Truman, Lincoln and Churchill would file away their unsent correspondence. No one outside their inner circle would read what they had written. Now we have the option of writing what should have been our unsent words for all the world to see. There are threads on reddit and many a website devoted to those notes you’d send if only you were braver, not to mention the habit of sites like Thought Catalog of phrasing entire articles as letters that were never sent.

    Want to express your frustration with your ex? Just submit a piece called “An Open Letter to the Girl I Loved and Lost,” and hope that she sees it and recognize herself. You, of course, have taken none of the risk of sending it to her directly.

    A tweet about “that person,” a post about “restaurant employees who should know better”; you put in just enough detail to make the insinuation fairly obvious, but not enough that, if caught, you couldn’t deny the whole thing. It’s public shaming with an escape hatch. Does knowing that we can expect a collective response to our indignation make it more satisfying?

    Not really. Though we create a safety net, we may end up tangled all the same. We have more avenues to express immediate displeasure than ever before, and may thus find ourselves more likely to hit send or tweet when we would have done better to hit save or delete. The ease of venting drowns out the possibility of recanting, and the speed of it all prevents a deeper consideration of what exactly we should say and why, precisely, we should say it.

    When Lincoln wanted to voice his displeasure, he had to find a secretary or, at the very least, a pen. That process alone was a way of exercising self-control — twice over. It allowed him not only to express his thoughts in private (so as not to express them by mistake in public), but also to determine which was which: the anger that should be voiced versus the anger that should be kept quiet.

    Now we need only click a reply button to rattle off our displeasures. And in the heat of the moment, we find the line between an appropriate response and one that needs a cooling-off period blurring. We toss our reflexive anger out there, but we do it publicly, without the private buffer that once would have let us separate what needed to be said from what needed only to be felt. It’s especially true when we see similarly angry commentary coming from others. Our own fury begins to feel more socially appropriate.

    We may also find ourselves feeling less satisfied. Because the angry email (or tweet or text or whatnot) takes so much less effort to compose than a pen-and-paper letter, it may in the end offer us a less cathartic experience, in just the same way that pressing the end call button on your cellphone will never be quite the same as slamming down an old-fashioned receiver.

    Perhaps that’s why we see so much vitriol online, so many anonymous, bitter comments, so many imprudent tweets and messy posts. Because creating them is less cathartic, you feel the need to do it more often. When your emotions never quite cool, they keep coming out in other ways.

    But even though a degree of depth and consideration may well have been lost along with the art of the unsent letter, something was also lost with those old letters that weren’t sent because their would-be sender overthought their appropriateness. I’d have loved for Truman to have actually sent this one off to the red-baiting Republican senator from Wisconsin, Joseph R. McCarthy: “You are not even fit to have a hand in the operation of the Government of the United States. I am very sure that the people of Wisconsin are extremely sorry that they are represented by a person who has as little sense of responsibility as you have.”

    Truman may have ended up regretting lashing out, but at least he would have had the satisfaction of knowing that he’d told off one of the blights of the American political scene when so many kept quiet. What survived as a “hot letter” would have made for quite the viral email.

    Maria Konnikova is the author of “Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes.”

    • Nick October 11, 2017 at 2:37 pm #

      Hi James, don’t think there is anything that is new in the world of thinking, just experiences.
      Cheers

      Nick

  2. David Hyams October 16, 2017 at 8:16 pm #

    Hi Nick. i always enjoy reading your thoughts. I especially enjoyed the frankness of this article as I can remember the early Nick, the loud voice the right point of view. Only too well !!

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