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How to Get Your Message Across. Words Matter.

From the time we get up till the time we go to bed, we communicate our wants, desires, fear, worry, anxiety to all the people around us. We should learn how to get our message across, because words matter. Words provide the basis for human connection, they matter a great deal. Although we have always known this intuitively, science has confirmed the tremendous power our words have on ourselves, our communities, and the world. The words we use and how we use them matter immensely because they shape the way we perceive the world and participate within it. Words are tricky because people can interpret the words we say and the manner we said those words in a way that is different from the way we originally intended. Words can lift us up or drag us down.

Choose your words carefully. Throwing words around in a nonchalant manner to whoever, whenever, however, and whatever can be reckless and have consequences. Be mindful of the words you use and how you use them because they will have an impact positive or negative on the people around you.

How to get your message across? By establishing a good rapport with your interlocutor

How to get your message across. Words matter. Photo by Master 1305 via freepik.com.

The advice below comes from Evy Poumpouras, a former Special Agent with the US Secret Service and the author of the book “Becoming Bulletproof: Protect Yourself, Read People, Influence Situations, Lice Fearlessly.”

Rapport is the ability to understand and communicate with people. You have to build rapport and then maintain it throughout the conversation till the end without dropping the ball in the middle of the conversation. It is like a ping pong game.

Use words that make people comply with what you are saying rather than words that make them resist you. Think about how your words are going to land on that person; so in order to get your message across you have to understand that person well and understand their triggers and how those words are going to land on them.

“It is an excellent rule to be observed in all disputes, that men should give soft words and hard arguments; that they should not so much strive to vex as to convince each other.” John Wilkins.

If you are dealing with someone who has a big ego, and if this person is someone with whom you want to maintain a good business relationship with, you may want to soften the words you are going to use to express the fact that on this particular occasion you will pass on the business opportunity so that they will not feel that your rejection of their offer is a direct attack on their identity or their ego. You have to be mindful of the fact that the word “no” can have a negative impact on your interlocutor, it can make them feel rejected and diminished. Having said that, there will be circumstances where you have to be more direct and decisive in your answer, and the words ‘no’ should be used in the right circumstance and will make you feel strong and assertive.

There could be situations where you need someone to wake up and react to what you are saying because they are completely indifferent to you or not really paying attention; in this case, drop some bombshell words and then watch how those words land on them; you will get a reaction from them in no time. Words are powerful, they can wake people up, shut people down, and they can also lift people up.

How to get your message across? By cultivating the art of acceptance, adaptability, by giving your interlocutor some autonomy, and by having empathy

How to get your message across. Words matter. Photo by Master 1305 via freepik.com.

How a word is interpreted and how a word lands on a person is going to be completely different from person to person because we are all unique individuals with different sensitivities and triggers. What you are saying and how you are saying it is important because it will have an impact, positive or negative, on the person you are connecting with.

You will find below 4 tips (from Evy Poumpouras) that will help you get your message across and have a top tier type of conversation

1. Acceptance. One of the hardest things you have to do when you are having a conversation with someone is to be able to accept what they are saying as truth, not your truth but their truth. If you start a conversation with a feeling of absolute knowing and self-righteousness, it is not going to be a good conversation and the chance is, it is not going to end well either. Try to resist the urge to tell the other person that they are absolutely wrong and try to accept the fact that what they are saying is their truth. Offer the interlocutor a safe place where they feel that they can say what they want and that they can be heard. That means being able to push your ego out of the way and instead of entering into a diatribe about how wrong they are, just listen to their point of view. Whether you agree or not is not the point, you need to give them sufficient space to express themselves to understand how they think, and how they feel about this particular matter.

2. Adaptability. When you have acceptance which is the biggest hurdle, the next thing you can do is to have adaptability. Adaptability means not being rigid. When you are rigid you are going to struggle. You may have an agenda and a road map before you go into that conversation, but if things go in a different direction, allow the person to go where they want (for a little bit) before you try to re-direct the conversation where you want to go. Pay attention to how the people who are listening to you are reacting to your words if you feel that you are losing them, because they can’t see where you are taking them, go straight to the point instead of going around the bush, or crack a joke to wake them up.

3. Autonomy. Give your interlocutor some autonomy, some kind of power in a situation where they may feel powerless. When you are negotiating with someone, or when you are having a difficult conversations, it is definitely not a good idea to try to bulldoze or destroy that person. Maybe you will win that argument this time around, but you will have built (unbeknown to you) in that same process a mountain of resentment. Giving your interlocutor some kind of power back builds rapport and connection.

4. Empathy. Being emphatic doesn’t mean sympathizing with the other person’s viewpoint; it means the ability to see things from another person’s perspective.

Having a good handle on how to get our message across is a skill that we all need to practice. It is always better to convince people through your words, demeanor and action rather than trying to shove something down someone’s throat no matter what, which is happening too often these days.

How to get your message across. Words matter. Photo by Master 1305 via freepik.com.

“Persuasion can go through obstacles that force cannot.” Yusuf A, Leinge.

Henry S. Truman said: “If you can’t convince them, confuse them.” Politicians are very good at this, when they can’t convince, they are trying to confuse the people by saying one thing and their contrary in the most inarticulate manner. Inconsistencies of speech, followed by actions that are contrary to what was preached a minute earlier is a complete turn off for me. Walk your talk otherwise you are not going to convince me.

This said, I feel in awe when I am listening to someone speak with eloquence, grace, and conviction. I am way impressed when I see someone handle difficult and stressful situations even verbal attacks with a calm, composed demeanor whilst holding their ground and standing up for themselves. Some people are really good at this, others less so.

Your Quest., my dear friend is to be in the group of people who are a top-tier communicator.

Personal Note

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In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com

How Good are your communication skills?

Every problem big or small starts with bad communication. Someone is not communicating their message clearly and/or someone is not listening. How good are your communication skills? Being an effective communicator requires that you are able to speak, listen, write and read effectively and clearly. It also means that you are comfortable with the different channels of communication – face to face, on paper, via zoom call, and so on.

Communication is a process where at least two individuals are involved, a sender and a receiver. For it to be successful, the receiver must understand the message in the way that the sender intended. It sounds simple and pretty straightforward, but it is not. Misunderstanding and confusion are commonplace and can cause conflicts and frustrations on a professional level but also on a personal level.

Effective communication on the other hand can help understand people and situations, leading the way for an effective way to share ideas, meet challenging situations, and build better relationships at home and at work.

Effective communication starts with understanding the 7- 38 – 55% Communication Rule.

How good are your communication skills? The 7-38 -55% Communication Rule. Photo by Nakaridore via freepik.com

Did you know that only 7% of communication is verbal, 38% is tone and inflection of voice and a staggering 55% is body language? Professor Mehrabian formulated this 7-38-55% communication theory in 1967. He believed that there are three core elements in the effective face-to-face communication of emotions or attitudes: non-verbal behavior (facial expressions, for example), tone of voice, and the literal meaning of the spoken word.

These three essential elements, Mehrabian argues, account for how we convey our liking, or disliking, of another person. Professor Mehrabian’s particular focus was on the importance of such non-verbal clues when they appear to conflict with the words used and/or tone in which they are spoken. He sought to investigate the impact of the spoken word and facial expressions on an individual’s ability to discern liking in another person and came to the conclusion that the literal meaning of the word counts much less than the tone of voice and the body language used to express those words.

Your facial expressions, hand movements, gestures, eye contact, attitude, tone of voice, the way you look, listen, react, speaks far more about your feelings than words will ever be able to. The way you feel about a particular subject matter will affect your non-verbal expression; if you feel angry, sorrow or fear those feelings will transpire in your facial expression and tone of voice.

How good are your communication skills? Your tone of voice speaks far more about your feelings than words. Photo by Nakaridore via freepik.com

This is why listening is an important aspect of communication. Effective listening is not just the understanding of spoken or written information, but also an understanding of how the speaker feels during communication, it is the ability to listen with empathy. Empathy is the ability to share and understand the feeling of another regardless of whether we agree with it or not.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

Aristotle

Effective communication also starts with the understanding that people are not mind-readers. Expecting people to guess your wishes and aspirations is only going to bring you frustration and resentment. If you want something from someone, express yourself clearly. If you use the right words, the right tone of voice, and the right body language, you are increasing your chance of having your wishes and aspirations becoming reality.

Effective communication starts with paying attention to the words you are using

There is no doubt that non -verbal communication is important, but we should never underestimate the power of a spoken or written word. Words have tremendous energy and power. They can have a positive or a negative impact on people. Well-chosen words can be used to attack, intimidate, demoralize or on the contrary, they can be used to inspire, motivate diffuse tension. Learn to choose your words carefully, it is a skill that is worth developing.

“If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind”

Buddha

How many times have you been in a situation where you spoke some words that you instantly regretted as soon as they left the corner of your mouth? Some people have a tendency to speak to avoid the discomfort of silence. Silence doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. Other people speak to unload an ego-driven thought or speak with a negative emotion like frustration or anger. The question you should ask yourself in those situations. Is it necessary? We all experience anger and frustration and expecting those feelings never to be expressed is not realistic. This said when you are hot under the collar and feel like lashing out in anger and frustration, pause for a second or two; this will give you sufficient space to avoid a knee-jerk reaction and will allow you to respond in a more controlled manner. Respond, don’t react.

Something we see more and more these days are situations where words have no meaning. Politicians are experts in this style of communication. They could say one thing one day and the opposite the next day, feel no shame about it and make it look like no big deal, I didn’t mean it this way. Empty platitude, pandering, vitriols, hyperbolic statements, condescending announcements, fear-mongering are a few of the tools politicians are using frequently. But don’t forget that actions speak louder than words. It is also worth pointing out that sometimes, the most important thing in communication is what is not being said.

Lost in translation. How the mistranslation of a sentence is causing geopolitical issues several generations after the event

How good are your communication skills? Lost intranslation. Photo by Nakaridore via freepik.com

Never underestimate the importance of words, a misplaced word or a mistranslation can in fact change the course of history, and I am not being hyperbolic when I say this. In 1840, the British government made a deal with the Maori chiefs in New Zealand. The Maori who wanted protection from convicts, sailors, and traders who were running havoc through their villages decided to sign the Treaty of Waitangi with the British Crown who jump at the opportunity to expand their colonial holdings. The Treaty of Waitangi was drawn up and both parties signed it. But unbeknown to them, they were signing different documents.

In the English version of the Treaty, the Maori were to “cede to Her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of Sovereignty” but are guaranteed “undisturbed possession” over their lands, forests, fisheries, and other properties. In the Maori version of the Treaty, they were not to give up sovereignty, but governance. The Maori gave the Crown “kawanatanga katoa” complete governorship. And they were guaranteed “tino rangatiratanga”, the unqualified exercise of chieftainship over their lands, dwelling places, and all other possessions. They thought they were getting a legal system, but keeping their right to rule themselves. That’s not how it turned out, and generations later the issues around the meaning of this treaty are still being worked out.

How good are your communication skills? Your ability to communicate effectively is an important tool to help you navigate through the ups and downs of your professional and personal life.

And this, my dear companion, is your Quest.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

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