There’s an adage in motor racing: “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast”. The idea is that the fastest lap may feel like the slowest because you’ve paid more attention to executing the fundamentals.
The same goes for conversations.
And one of those fundamentals is providing our conversation partner with context.
Context sets the scene. It’s the information at the start that paints the backdrop so that a message can be properly understood. It answers questions like “What’s this conversation about?” and “Why is it relevant to me?”
Launching into our message without providing context makes our conversations harder 😓 and slower 🐢.
While it may feel like we’re slowing down the message to add more context, it makes for a smoother and faster conversation overall. It’s an investment that pays off.
When it comes to conversations: slow down to speed up.
Harvard’s Deepak Malhotra provides a helpful angle on this in his book Negotiating the Impossible:
"Don’t just prepare your arguments, prepare your audience for your arguments."
Malhotra recommends that we do this well if we consider what the other must see, feel, experience or understand before they will be truly receptive to our message.
Yes, providing context takes a little more time, but if we don’t want the other person to fumble our request, we will help them catch it ⚾️