A-Z Challenge: E is for Elegance

Another topic chosen for me, this time by my girlfriend.  Suggestions for “F” is now open, I will take the first comment given.


2. the quality of being pleasingly ingenious and simple; neatness.

The word “elegant” is almost always used as a compliment.  Yet it is too easy to overlook the elegant solutions: the simple ones, the neat ones.  Of course, in many cases there is no single, simple solution to a problem.  But if we take a complicated situation down to its absolute basics, there is often an elegant answer.  Sometimes having a simple suggestion presented to you is infuriating.


Person A:  I can’t write my essay.
Person B:  Why, what’s wrong?
Person A:  Everything.
Person B:  Like..?
Person A:  It’s too loud in my house, there are builders next door, my girlfriend’s being weird, it’s stressing me out, I’m bored of the topic anyway and I’m hungry and have no food in.
Person B:  Have you thought about going to the library?  Get a sandwich on the way?

Frustrating, isn’t it?  You are pouring your heart out about all the things that are bothering you, and someone else is simply suggesting that you go to the library to focus on your essay.  Yet if your main problem at this particular moment is being unable to focus on the essay, maybe going to the library isn’t such a terrible idea.  The other things can be solved later.  What Person B has done is taken the complicated situation down to its absolute basic (and most pressing) issue and suggested a solution to that.

Working for Nightline, I am not allowed to offer advice.  I am only allowed to ask questions- hopefully the right questions, at the right time.  My aim is to help callers come up with a solution for themselves, so I need to ask questions that take many complicated problems down to their simplest level.  In other words, I need to reduce.  I don’t think reducing a situation is always the best way to assess and solve it, because often it’s the underlying issues that are masked by the One Pressing Issue in a person’s life (see Person A’s conversation with Person B).  But sometimes if we can focus on the right now of a situation, we are able to reach a solution at least to what seems like the most pressing problem at that time.  Sometimes that solution may involve many things but often it can be elegant, can be simple.

People can get too bogged down in what they see is the bigger picture and, in doing so, become swamped by it.  I have come to learn- in my own life and in helping others- that starting with something small can help resolve the bigger issues- bit by bit by bit.

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