Just Get to the Point

August 14, 2014 in listening, Values Storying by al.ainsworth7@gmail.com

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Just get to the point

Photo Credit: Martin Gommel via photopin cc

Just Get to the Point

If I could sum up the results of a recent survey I conducted about the discipline of listening and how it relates to our sharing our life experiences (and the values they contain) with others, this is what respondents said:

  1. I wish people would just get to the point.
  2. The more people who are in the room, the harder time I have paying attention.
  3. The main reason I don’t share my life experiences with others is that people are just too busy.

(Scroll to the bottom for full results of the survey. I thought I would heed the findings of the survey and just get to the point at the beginning of the post. Find the survey and the post that explained the purpose behind it here: How Do You Make Them Listen?)

Getting to the Point of Values Storying

I shared a post on Twitter and Facebook yesterday that speaks to the point of values storying (the passing of values from one generation to the next through the stories we tell…and re-tell). Twitter demands that I just get to the point in 140 characters or less (quite a challenge for me sometimes).

Went to register for class last night, told that my way had been paid. I’ll enter another Place one day to hear the same thing. ‪#‎grateful‬

I received a lot of positive feedback on the post. Really, though, all that happened was that I walked into a gym to pay for a class that I am taking. Then, I was told that my money was no good, that my class had been “gifted.” While that was quite a blessing to me personally, there’s not much story-worthy about that experience, right?


…a greater value is attached to the story. And I know of no greater value than the gospel. And this was a chance to share it with my social media connections in 140 characters or less.

What’s the Point?

Now, I don’t tell you that story to say, “Hey, look at me! I wrote a crafty post on social media!”

No, the point is that if we’re paying attention, the most common of events can be reminders of the things we value most. Slightly out-of-the-ordinary occurrences become even more noticeable. Our perspectives and our values can then be shared in meaningful, “as you are going” ways with others, even if we “just get to the point.”

I hope this post blesses you and challenges you to pay attention to your circumstances. Be a blessing to others by trying your hand at values storying today.

And Now, the Rest of the Survey…

Question 1:Research has shown that the average person speaks between 120 and 300 words per minute but that the average person processes about 500-3,000 words per minute. Check the responses that apply to your own listening and thinking processes. (Check all that apply.)
  • (85%)
  • (69%)
  • My mind easily wanders to what else I could be doing when someone is taking longer than I think is necessary to say what they are trying to say. (62%)
  • (62%)
  • (46%)
  • (46%)
  • (31%)
  • (15%)

Question 2:Consider your ability to concentrate on what someone else in saying in the contexts below. Please rank the following according to your ability to focus on what a speaker is saying. (Arrange from easiest to most difficult.)

  • One-on-one conversation with a friend (Avg. 1.25)
  • Family dinner (Avg. 2.58)
  • Small group of friends or associates (Avg. 2.85)
  • Large group setting like a church sermon or motivational speech (Avg. 3.92)
  • Training session with a single speaker (Avg. 3.92)

Observation: Not surprisingly, the more voices that enter a conversation, the less likely people are to pay attention. The same seems to be true when more people are simply in the room, even if they are not engaging in the conversation.

Question 3: Please indicate the TWO biggest hindrances that you have in sharing your past experiences (your stories) with other family members. (Please mark TWO answers based on your own experience.)
  • (54%)
  • (31%)
  • (31%)
  • (23%)
  • (8%)
  • (0%)
  • (0%)

Observation: Most of these hindrances are ones that I believe DO HAVE SOLUTIONS. I’ll be working on your behalf to bring workable solutions to the communication gaps that both you and I have. Check back here on Thursdays to engage in that conversation. The end result of passing our values from one generation to the next is worth a little effort.

Question 4: Is there a specific question about listening that you would like me to address?

I have learned from past surveys that most people feel uncomfortable with open-ended questions, but they tend to produce some good information. Here are a couple of the questions that the survey produced and some brief thoughts. I may expound a bit more in future posts.

How would you get someone to “get to the point” when they become long-winded?

We can never speed people’s speech up to our ability to process words (except when listening to an audio broadcast where the “speed-up” feature is available). One way to help, at least in a smaller setting, is to insert questions that help the speaker move toward what appears to be the next logical point that you have probably already figured out. Keep in mind that to do so brusquely often communicates more than you intend. Which leads to the next question…

Listening, in a one on one situation, is as much about body language as anything else. Your thoughts?

My first thought is that my wife must have written this question as a trap. One of the many areas of listening where I need to improve is being able to listen patiently without my body language yelling, “Just get to the point!” I have often been misunderstood because my body language said something other than what I was really thinking.

When your body language says “just get to the point,” you are placing a higher priority on the message that on the speaker. Whether or not we intend to de-value the speaker with our body language, the message is the same. Ouch.

Check our last week’s post: How Do You Make Them Listen?

Thanks for reading.

For the next generation,
Al Ainsworth

P.S.: An update on my latest book project (Working title: Stories from the Roller Coaster), a faith stories collection: I am just over a third of the way through my 17-week time frame and more than 20,000 words in. Be sure to sign up for my email list (right column) to stay up to date with my progress.