“Simple” Does Not Mean “Simplistic”

In our workshops, we talk all the time about making things simple. The simple answer wins the day most of the time. In a world that is increasingly fast-paced, time-starved, and overloaded with information, the person who can make complicated things simple and easy to understand rules the world.

But when I talk about this theme in our workshops, inevitably one of the participants pushes back and talks about the danger of making things “too simple.” “The things I talk about with my colleagues/boss/customers/suppliers are really complicated, and if I make them too simple, I lose credibility.” I hear that one a lot. People are worried about losing their “street cred” through simple answers.

I hear the point… but I am going to politely push back on the pushback. When my colleagues and I talk about making things simpler, we are not saying make them simplistic. There is a difference. If you make something “simple” you make it easy to understand and absorb. If you make something “simplistic” you over-simplify, often in a way that misleads. There is a difference, indeed.

Making something simple means you make it easier to hear, understand, absorb and act upon. In other words, you identify the issues in clear ways, you use easy-to-hear vocabulary, you get to the point quickly, you lay out key steps. You make yourself easy to listen to. That is what we mean when we counsel you to make things “simple.” To make something “simplistic” means something else entirely… that you have missed the nuance, left out key elements, ignored possible outcomes. That would be bad.

The simple message (see what I did there?) today is this. We live in a world where people are overwhelmed with information, their time is in critically short supply, and we are all drowning. So, be the easiest part of someone’s day or week. Be the best part of someone’s day.

Make your message simple. Not simplistic.

Have a great day!

We believe that great communication skills change the world. We transform people and organizations of all sizes with simple, repeatable techniques, through an integrated platform of corporate training, coaching, and asynchronous learning.

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Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.