How to Apply the Rule of Three to Improve Your Communications

I have been guilty of writing many an email message filled with a dozen or so compelling facts and arguments in an attempt to convince a potential client to see my vision. My guess is that you too may also be guilty of the same transgression. My guess is if you went back and analyzed the results of these messages you would likely see, as I did, that more is often not better.

There is a science that explains this failure. According to neuroscientist Daniel Bor, author of “The Ravenous Brain: How the New Science of Consciousness Explains Our Insatiable Search for Meaning”, chunking represents our ability to “hack” the limits of our human memory. The concept of chunking refers to our ability to take smaller bits of information and combine them into more meaningful and memorable concepts. Probably the most common example of chunking occurs in phone numbers (nnn) nnn-nnnn.

When it comes to chunking, studies have determined that three is the magic number. This is especially true when it comes to having the other party remember your message. This is sometimes referred to as the “rule of three.”

Goldilocks broke into a house with three bears. There were three little pigs. Even in religion, we have the father, son and the holy ghost and in the Christmas Carol, we have the ghost of Christmas past, present, and future. Three is ubiquitous when it comes to storytelling.

So how is the rule of three important to a business owner? Next time you want to communicate with a customer pick the main three concepts you want to convey. Rather than try to convey every point, limit each communication to just three points and no more. Science has proved that it is much better to restrict the number points to just three.

If there are more points you need to convey, do it over multiple messages. Whether writing an email, telling the story, or delivering a speech the rule of three applies.

How will you apply the rule of three to your next communication?

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