Sometimes, a few words is all it takes, but we like to talk. We talk in meetings. We talk over meals. We talk on the phone. We send emails back and forth. We text. We tweet. So many words. So many conversations. At home and at work, we often find ourselves talking about the same issues over and over again until, hopefully an issue is resolved. We think that perhaps the more words we use, the more information we share, the more success we will have.
But what if we used fewer words? What if we talked less? What if those fewer words were said with more thought, and had more impact? Is a long movie a better movie? Is a song more powerful because it is packed with more words?
“You never close your eyes, anymore when I kiss your lips.”
Sometimes, the fewer words we use the more power and impact those carefully chosen words have. Consider, if you will, the 1965 song “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling” by the Righteous Brothers. Written by husband and wife songwriting team Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill, the song is only 3:46 long (a relatively long song for 1965), but everything we need to know is in that first line.
In only 11 words, we know the entire relationship. They were in love. There was passion. They kissed with their eyes closed as they dreamed of a long life together. But her eyes are not closed anymore. Does she look at him when they kiss, or does she just stare off into the distance? Is there any hope she will close her eyes once again, or is there only a sad resolve that the passion that was once there is forever gone. “You never close your eyes, anymore…” The rest of the song exists only to serve those 11 words.
Amazing things have been written using the fewest number of words. Sometimes, in just a few words, countries have been built, religions have been created, and deep, meaningful stories have been told.
“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.” Declaration of Independence
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Book of Genesis
“To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.” Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
“Wild thing, you make my heart sing.” The Troggs
So before engaging in that next conversation, take a pause. It’s not just about using fewer words, it’s about using more powerful words. It’s about creating space between the words. Space for quiet, space for introspection and space for others to see and imagine themselves.
Hopefully, after all these years, she is closing her eyes again.