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Weekly 3: Benefits of slowing down

Summary: Increase your reaction time. Slow down to spot errors. Let the silence speak for you. (~4 mi

Idea Journal Weekly 3

October 27 · Issue #110 · View online
We combine 3 ideas to help you think differently and be more creative.

Summary: Increase your reaction time. Slow down to spot errors. Let the silence speak for you. (~4 min read)
Note: Idea #3 is taken from a previous issue, and we’ve included it here because it fits well with the core theme: benefits of slowing down.

#1. "Cool the emotions down"
In his book The Laws of Human Nature, author Robert Greene writes that one way to “master your emotional self” and make better decisions is to increase your reaction time. 
When some emotionally-charged event or interaction requires a response, Greene recommends training yourself to step back. For example, this could mean writing that angry email, but not sending it. Instead, you sleep on it for a day or two.
Increasing your reaction time can be beneficial even in otherwise positive circumstances. If you find yourself rushing to commit to people, for instance to hire or be hired by them, step back and give it a day.
The longer you’re able to take, the better – with that additional time comes perspective. 
For Greene, this approach is similar to resistance training: “the longer you can resist reacting, the more mental space you have for actual reflection, and the stronger your mind will become.”
#2. Not all practice makes perfect
Author Daniel Coyle writes in The Little Book of Talent that when we learn how to do something new, our immediate urge is to do it again – faster.
Coyle calls this the “Hey, look at me!” reflex.
This urge for speed is understandable, but it can lead to sloppiness, particularly with skills that require precision. 
Instead, Coyle recommends slowing down the pace of practice. 
As he puts it, super-slow practice works like a magnifying glass: “It lets us sense our errors more clearly, and thus fix them.”
Coyle points out that this deliberately slow practice is used in many “talent hotbeds.” For example, at the Spartak Tennis Club, students swing in such slow motion that they resemble ballet dancers. And performers at the Septien School of Contemporary Music learn a new song by singing one note at a time.
Another example is the professional golfer Ben Hogan, considered by many to have had the most technically sound swing in the history of the game. Hogan practiced his swings so slowly that when he finally made contact with the ball, it moved about an inch.
For Coyle, the lesson is: “It’s not how fast you can do it. It’s how slowly you can do it correctly.”
#3. Replace “umm” with silence
Communications expert Scott Berkun writes in his book Confessions of a Public Speaker that using “filler words” like umm and uhh in normal conversation is acceptable and even encouraged: “You’re letting the people you’re talking to know you are not done speaking.”
But repeatedly saying umm or uhh when you’re giving a presentation or a speech reduces the impact and effectiveness of your message.
As Berkun notes, nothing kills your power over a room as much as a lack of silence.
When you constantly fill the air with sounds, the audience members’ ears never get a break. And if what you’re saying is interesting or persuasive, the audience will need moments of pause in order to digest your points.
The trick is to replace filler words with silence. Just when you’re about to say umm or uhh, make a conscious effort to pause and embrace the silence.
For Berkun, this is a simple and effective way to improve your presentations and speeches.
He suggests that you take inspiration from stand-up comedians: “… about 20-30% of their time on the microphone is spent in silence, often just to let the audience laugh and enjoy the last thing said, or to provide a pacing break to set up the next thing they want to say.”
Quote of the Week
“Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.”
- Attributed to actress Mae West
Idea Journal
Idea Journal
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