Warning: You Might Be Moving Too Fast

Last week fellow blogger Nate explored the New Era of Speed and the idea that our appetite for speed is stronger than ever. I happen to agree with him; however, I also believe that we’re misapplying speed in our daily lives. Trust me, I’m as guilty as the next person, but I think we can learn a lot if we slow down. Perhaps a few examples might help?

To Go, Please – On my way to work one recent morning, I stopped at a favorite local sandwich shop to grab a cup of coffee and bagel before my morning of meetings. It was unclear who was next in line so I offered the girl next to me go first. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the girl behind the counter huffed, “Somebody go! I don’t have time for this!” My immediate sassy (internal) thought was, “Really? Where are you going?!” since I was the one with a morning full of meetings and was trying to be nice. But I’m trying to curb my sassiness, so I said nothing and told the girl to go ahead of me. I used to stop at the shop weekly, but I haven’t been back since. While the coffee and bagels are good, the misused speed in customer service left a bad taste in my mouth.

Yesterday – It’s happened to all of us. Someone asks you for something and when you ask when they need it they answer, “yesterday.” Unless you have access to Doc Brown’s Delorean, there’s no way you’re going to make that deadline and it immediately sets off a sense of urgency that might not actually be necessary. I know no one actually means “yesterday” but why set your colleagues, spouse, friends, etc. up to fail? We’re all guilty of it but next time you need something quickly, consider giving deadline that they might actually be able (and willing) to meet.

How are you? – I will admit that I am most guilty of this one (and can definitely always use this reminder.) When I lived in Denmark a few years ago, one of the first things someone said to me was:

“You’re American,” (honestly I wasn’t sure why he was reminding me since I already felt like a fish out of water but he continued), “and you often ask, ‘how are you’ but walk away before someone answers. You can’t do that in Denmark. If you ask a question, wait to hear the answer. People here will answer your question.”

It dawned on me. What I considered a casual greeting isn’t a greeting at all – it’s a question and walking away before someone answers is rude. Now, I’m not suggesting you stop asking “how are you” but rather ask it when you actually have the time to stop and listen.

So yes, speed is important, but equally important is knowing when there is a need for speed, when you can slow down and the difference between the two. And who knows, by slowing down and listening, you might just learn something new…