Slow things down to save time and money

Slow down to speed things up. Yes, I know – it’s a dichotomy to say you have to slow down to speed things up but, well it’s true, writes Kay White, of communications and mentoring firm Way Forward Solutions.

So often we think we have to decide on the spot; say “yes” or “no” in the moment and know all the answers to the questions we’re asked. Well, we’re actually making things harder for ourselves and harder on ourselves if we believe that to be true.

You think faster than you think!

I’ve learned we think faster than we think. It’s worth saying again to remind us both – we think faster than we think. Our brain processes the question; the decision; the issue in front of us quickly. What we do is assume that we have to always be thinking on the spot and just because we’re asked a question we have to know the answer; respond straight away or act immediately. Well, we don’t.

Even if we do know the answer, we don’t have to commit ourselves straight away. We can buy ourselves time and find subtle ways to make the other person wait – even if it’s for just a few seconds.

The value in NOT rushing in

Clients say, particularly women,one of the big struggles they have when they’re promoted or as they take on more responsibility is the feeling of fear of having to know all the answers; of “making the right decision on the spot”. Well, “hello”- firstly who does know all the answers? Secondly, who knows what the right decision is? Only time tells us that. We make decisions taking into account what’s going on at the time; the information, insight and instinct we have and then, we wait to find out how it pans out.

It’s liberating – certainly it is for me – to know that you don’t have to know all the answers and you don’t have to do everything or decide everything “ now– even if it would suit others if you did.

People waste huge amounts of time, money and energy – our three most precious resources – by rushing in to decisions; responding to emails in a “shooting from the fingertip” mode; being asked questions and blurting out the first thing that comes to mind. Clearing up or back-tracking from rushed decisions or responses just slows us down.

3 ways to slow things down to speed things up

Try these techniques yourself when you’re asked a question:

  1. Repeat the question. Say it back to the person in a way that sounds thoughtful so you and your brain can process it. It also has the added bonus of making sure the person asking the question is actually asking what they want. (This is a great tip for interviews by the way)
  2. Ask the person asking what they think first. You can literally say “hmm, now beforeI tell you what I think, what do you think?” This is especially powerful for someone working or reporting to you – why not make them do the thinking first?
  3. Ask another question. It sounds so elementary doesn’t it? Rather than answer what you’ve been asked; ask a few more questions about the background to the question to get clearer and, again, to buy you and your brain a few more seconds before – and if – you decide to answer.

 

4th December 2012

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