07 February 2021

The power of three

We are wired to tune into the power of three.

Great communication is built on it.

Consider many of the most durable marketing slogans: 

  • Just Do It 
  • Don't be evil
  • I'm Lovin' It
  • Work hard. Have fun. Make history.
In making presentations we are reminded to tell our audience what we are going to tell them, tell them, and tell them what we told them. We are also advised to never leave anyone with more than three key messages. 

It amazes me how in personal relationships, we often forget this rule. We tend to give reductant explanations bloated with unnecessary words. When the simple and concise ones that everyone already knows tend to be the most powerful and memorable ones in almost any circumstance.

A series of events recently got me thinking about what three words might be the most useful in the context of any personal relationship. In no particular order here what I settled on:
  • I need help
  • I am sorry
  • I don't know
These have all in common one thing: they can be hard to say.

I need help requires the courage to surrender control to someone else.
I am sorry requires deep self-awareness and strong responsibility for your actions.
I don't know requires mind openness and vulnerability.

We all know how powerful, simple, and easy to decode for others they are, and yet we don't use them enough.
 

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