As I see it...The Two Minute Rule

By Tamara Garwood

Many years ago, I came home from a rather stressful day at work to my new husband.  He asked me what was wrong.  I immediately began to unload about the dreadful day that I had.  He sat patiently and listened to my woes for some time, with a caring smile, but without comment.  Finally, he opened his mouth to utter only two words: “two minutes.”  I stopped my ranting and asked what that meant.  He explained that he was willing to listen for two more minutes and then I had to be done.  My rant was not good for him or me.  I thought about it and decided that it was a pretty fair option.  After a minute or so, I stopped and actually felt much better. 

A few weeks later, I again came home and began complaining about my day.  After several minutes, my husband smiled and said the now famous words, “two minutes.”  I immediately stopped talking.  I realized the unfair burden I was putting on him, forcing him to relive my rotten day.  I also realized that it would take me much more than two minutes to finish my story and it was not really worth it to spend that time rehashing the negative parts of my day.  I just stopped talking and again felt great relief. 

We now refer to this as the Two Minute Rule.  It does not get used that often any more, but every once in awhile it rears its head.  In fact, we usually don’t even utter the words but instead simply waive a hand with two fingers held up. 

I have to admit, I often sit in court, listening to other people’s arguments and wish everyone knew the Two Minute Rule.  I could just stand up and interrupt attorneys and say “two minutes.”  Would they stop talking immediately?  Would they realize that the judge had read their materials and did not need any further argument?  Would they realize that they were just repeating the same thing over and over?

I am willing to share this rule with everyone.  I think that it will make us all realize that it is just not necessary to burden others with some of our stories, complaints, etc.  It is also wise to not waste our words unnecessarily.

Hopefully, it only took you two minutes to read this.

Tamara Garwood practices in the area of family law and is also a mediator in domestic relations matters.  A past Washtenaw County Bar Association director at large and chairperson of the WCBA’s Friend of the Court Committee, she is a member of the State Bar of Michigan’s Family Law Section and Women Lawyers Association of Michigan.  Garwood is an author of a chapter in ICLE’s Michigan Family Law.