New Year's Challenge, Day 3

The way you say “hello” matters. 

We have no problem understanding that we must communicate differently with a native from, let’s say, Japan, or India, or Brazil, where the language and culture is different from our own. We can pinpoint what we should do and what we should say to make interactions with a foreigner successful. However, when communicating with those with whom we share a language and culture, our approach is often unguarded, and we trust our instincts and past learned behavior to drive the nuances of our communication patterns. 

Many people miss opportunities because they simply fail to be aware and change communication patterns as the environment around them changes. Have you ever been at a presentation and thought the person giving the speech had no business being on stage? If you search your memory you will realize that the way you felt had nothing to do with content and everything to do with how the presenter delivered the content. She, the presenter, did not change patterns of communication when she walked on stage.

Friendship has a language. Love has a language. Business has a language with many sub languages, including social, situational, leadership, motivational, reconciliatory, and many others. These categories go beyond linguistics and include everything from the words you choose, to how you pronounce the words, to what shoes you are wearing, whether your hair is messy, and many other details. Today, concentrate on only one of these factors. The way you choose words.

Our challenge to you today is two-fold. First, categorize the conversations you are about to have before saying the first word. That will make you aware of the nuances that will need to be employed when you speak. Second, when you interact with somebody in a formal setting, I challenge you to consciously communicate using as few words as possible, and with the simplest words. Clarity in communication sometimes comes from understanding we must diminish the words the listener will have to throw away in order to understand what we are actually saying. The less words you use, the less work your listener will have employ to sift through that which is important, and you will tremendously increase your chances of being clearly understood.