Slow is Fast and Fast is Slow

Sometimes we may think we are saving time when we hurriedly talk with people, or cut off a conversation. And there certainly are times and people with whom we can occasionally get away with that. Sometimes there are situations where we must move on, and people often understand that.

But we’ve probably all had experiences of trying to save time with people which were regretted. It may have been with a co-worker, a child or a spouse. We sometimes become impatient, focus only on what we need to get done —but at what cost? And with what result?

It relates to the difference between efficiency (performing tasks in an organized and capable way, without waste) and effectiveness (causing the desired or intended result). Stephen Covey has wisely said, “With people, if you want to save time, don’t be efficient. Slow is fast and fast is slow.”

It is neither efficient nor effective to create human relationship problems. And even if they don’t surface immediately, they can affect the ability to work with others and get things done. How much time is invested in trying to solve relationship problems? It’s like that old “ounce of prevention versus a pound of cure” thing.

Taking time to listen, helping the other person feel heard and valued, reflect back what was said, etc. may take a few more seconds or minutes than the hurried approach. It may not seem as efficient, but it is much more effective. Immeasurable time is saved by strengthening relationships and avoiding counterproductive hard feelings, backbiting, and diminished results—as well as long meetings about them!

Certainly there are some who talk endlessly, and are oblivious to our needs. Sometimes we may need to be pleasantly assertive when we need to do other things. But taking the time to consider the people-side of “getting things done” will help keep life moving along much more effectively—and actually save much time in the long and short run.


“Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.”
~ Benjamin Franklin

To your Quality of Life,


nancyNancy Hagan, Effective Executive LLC, works with business leaders who want to be more effective and productive, and focus on their highest priorities. Please contact Nancy at or (513) 899-9949. For information about workshops and other services, visit