Anne Greenwood/

Are You the Fire Hose or the Nozzle?

Don't flood the zone with your thoughts without knowing what you want to accomplish.

As you enter into countless live and virtual conversations this week, here’s a question to consider. Are you the firehose or the nozzle? Here’s a quick description of each and a few ways to tell the difference.

To get the mental picture of a fire hose, imagine the real thing hooked up to a fire hydrant on a summer day. The water is turned on full force and is just gushing everywhere and in no particular direction. There’s a lot of waste and, other than getting the street soaked, very little is being accomplished.

In contrast to that picture, imagine the last time you saw a video of firefighters using the nozzles at the end of their hoses to expertly direct the water where it needs to go to do the most good. They’re acting with purpose to target their resources for maximum effect.

In conversations and written communications you can either be the firehose or the nozzle.

On the one hand, you’re flooding the zone with everything that crosses your mind. You’re not really approaching things with a particular outcome in mind; you’re just dumping all of your thoughts out there.

With the nozzle approach to communications you’re much more targeted and effective. You’re mindful -- aware and intentional -- of where others are mentally and emotionally and where you’d like them to be during and after the communication event. You take time to consider what you’re trying to accomplish and how you need to direct your communications to accomplish that.

So, what’s it going to be this week? Fire hose or nozzle?

(Image via Anne Greenwood/