We talk big when we’re trying to convince someone of something. Big words, long sentences. Multiple paragraphs.
The other day, I was talking with a friend of a friend about something important — national politics or smog or something. We were both taking turns making our double-jointed arguments, from our patio chairs spaced 6 feet apart. Then, his school-age son pulled up a blanket and sat down near us with his arms full of miniature cars.
I didn’t acknowledge the little guy because I didn’t want to shoo him away with my “adultness,” but I did simplify my speech to allow him access to the conversation should he want to jump in. We kept on the same topic; I still made the same points but with one-syllable words instead of three. I cut out the commas and opted for periods. I spoke from the heart. All heart, all feeling, a language kids understood.
Well the kid never jumped in.
But the conversation took off. We went deep, real deep. It was the best part of the talk, hands down. We got somewhere neither of us was expecting to go.
This reminds me of career coaching: often the simplest comments are the most profound as if all of those big scribbly words merely shroud the thing you’re trying to see. The more you talk, the more you scribble, the more you cover.
There’s a basic thing in there trying to reveal itself. Stop scribbling.
Us adults, in all our sophisticated self-reflection and pontification, we choose to cover up the truth, not dig it out. We don’t work at the base level, even though that’s the level of breakthrough, the way to make everything come down so you can build it up again.
When it comes to changing minds and changing lives, when you’re hoping to go deeper than a win and truly influence someone’s view of the world, and possibly your own, intellect falls short.
Put away your best argument, keep the scribbles off the truth, and be brave enough to let the thing reveal itself.