First, a quick refresher on the classic tale.
Goldilocks, after breaking and entering into the empty home of The Three Bears, proceeds to eat the dinner the bear family worked very hard to prepare. First she tries one porridge and decides it’s too hot. The next bowl is too cold. The last bowl is juuuuuuust right. After she gorges herself on porridge, Goldilocks decides to take an after-dinner nap. The first bear-bed she lays on is too hard. The second is too soft. The last one is juuuuuuust right. As Goldilocks snores away, the bears come home. Goldilocks wakes just in time and escapes with her life.
Like Goldilocks, we like when things are juuuuuuust right. When working on your communication skills, it helps to think of these behaviors on a pendulum.
Let’s say you speak softly. On the pendulum, the opposite of too quiet is too loud (this leads to it’s own set of communication challenges). Or maybe you pace or rock back and forth when you speak. If the pendulum swings to the other side, you would be stiff as a board (and no fun to watch). Neither extreme on the pendulum is ideal— where we want to land is somewhere in the middle.
How do we do that? Aiming for “just right” can leave us shy of our goals. In order to end up in the middle of the pendulum, when we practice, we should try to push to the other extreme. If you’re too quiet, what happens when you are TOO LOUD? CAN you be too loud? I dare you.
(Expert tip: Keep a sense of fun and accept that at first you might feel a little silly. Silly is good— it means you’re out of your comfort zone.)
This week, I drew the pendulum for a client asked her where she wanted to be and where she was aiming when she practiced.
As soon as she saw the drawing, she exclaimed, “It’s like when I was a softball pitcher!”
I leaned in, curious, “I don’t play softball, tell me what you mean.”
“Well,” she shared, “in practice, I would pitch way farther back from the mound than I would ever have to pitch in the game. Then, I would get closer and closer until pitching from the mound felt easy.”
OVERSHOOT the mark when you practice. Test your boundaries. Have fun with it. BE LIKE GOLDILOCKS and experiment to discover what is juuuuuuuuust right.
(And also, if you break into the house of a bear, be sure to run away before you are discovered.)
You might be asking, “WHEN DO I PRACTICE?” Stay tuned.
Executive Communication Coach and Trainer