Hey man, how you doin’?
How you doin’?
Aww, how are you doing?
So, how are you doing?!
Isn’t it funny how the same sentence can take on a different meaning and feeling depending on our inflection and use of wording and facial expression? How many times in your day or week do you feel yourself offended by the way someone speaks to you? How many times in your day or week do you feel validated by the way someone speaks to you?
I know that we all subscribe to the idea that since we live in America our national language is English, but have you ever stopped to think about how many dialects of English there are in this country of ours?
Depending on where you live in America your interpretation of our national language has a little lilt to it or a drawl to it or shorthand to it. How about the new language our cell phones are creating, the language of text? Now there is an interesting twist to the English language. I’m trying to learn text but it is so hard for me. To make it more confusing, I find that I have to be so very careful not to use my children’s version of text when texting with a friend or a client. I always want to keep in mind the reputation I am cultivating and maintaining through my different options of communication.
All of this brings me to the idea of how our communication sets the stage, or verbal résumé if you will, for who we advertise ourselves to be in our world. I recently read a short article in Inc. Magazine written by M. Heffernan entitled, “It’s Not Just Semantics. Words Make an Enormous Difference in Leadership.” In this fascinating and too short article Ms. Heffernan speaks about how the way we use our language in business plays a very important role in generating the business we want and the clientele we hope to attract and how our language sets us up as leaders in our business community. “All business involves communication.” But really doesn’t all of life, even in the everyday, involve communication? Have you ever felt like you just can’t seem to get your point across?
Ms. Heffernan goes on to close her article by saying, “When you use words loosely, without care and consideration, you erode trust in yourself and in what you’re saying. When you squander words, when you use words too often, you diminish your power.” How do you feel when you read this last sentence? For me, I believe it wholeheartedly. It begs these few questions:
1) How do I want people to see me, to know me in the way I speak?
2) What impression do I want to leave with everyone I meet?
3) What do I want my personal, outward, verbal résumé to say about me?
4) What can I leave for someone in the way that I communicate with them?
Lately I find that when I am composing a letter for instance, I automatically go to my thesaurus to research ways in which I can say a common word more creatively, more professionally, and/or more maturely. It’s actually kind of fun. I love words. I love playing with words. I love learning new words and finding meaning in words. I love the look on my children’s’ faces when I use a word they haven’t heard before or when I use a word that sounds funny to them. It makes them lean in a bit and listen more deeply to what I am saying. Even if they stop the conversation to ask, “What does that mean?” I know I’ve gotten their attention and that’s always a good thing.
Communication is the number one factor in whether people get along in any society. The deaf community has their own way of communicating and yet it isn’t off limits to those of us who want to take the time to learn it. That idea also is the same for foreign languages as well. How else might we learn new ways to communicate so that we leave a good impression of who we are and with those we take time to speak with? What are some ways in which you can re-create or start to create your verbal résumé?
1) We can start by saying we will be more mindful of using swear words in any conversation and especially around children.
2) We can be more aware of a person’s name. Everyone loves to be acknowledged and validated in the moment.
3) We can try to be less distracted by what is going on around us while talking with someone. Stay focused and present.
4) We can create interest in the conversation by repeating a brief snippet back by rephrasing what someone is saying in question form. For example: Joe says, “So I’ve been having trouble with getting my 3 year old to stop raising his voice in the library.” You say, “Wow, raising his voice in the library has become an issue for you? I think it’s great that you go to the library with him that often.”
Words allow us to draw mental pictures of the conversations we have been exposed to. Those pictures we create make the conversation more alive and meaningful and we are better able to recall it and pass it along. The mental pictures create a story and stories are a very powerful tool to use when speaking in any forum. The impression that is created in the way we speak can make or break who we are and what we want people to remember about us. Try an experiment this week and see how you can up your verbal résumé, your communication skills game. It’s so fun!!
If you would like to discover more about how your verbal résumé can create new business opportunities for you or how you can create a platform for more people to be interested in what you have to say contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Images courtesy of google.com