Thursday, January 14, 2010

Words for the Wise

Even though over 90% of communication is non-verbal, the words we choose to use are still extremely important in creating our Verbal Essence. A large majority of the population is visually oriented. Hence Aristotle's quote: "The soul never thinks without a mental image." Whether your selling someone on an idea or just trying to clarify a point, it's very helpful to use language that will help the listener form a picture in their minds. In addition to choosing visual words, it's important to stay away from words that rob your conversation of its power and impact.

Words to Lose
1) It’s interesting how many of my clients use the words “Maybe” and “I think” before they express an opinion they hold strongly or before they say something positive about themselves. It weakens whatever comes after it. Instead use words like – I believe, I know , I am.. or just state the opinion.
Example: “I think I’m really good at helping my clients reach their financial goals” vs. “I’m a real cheerleader for my clients and 70% of them reach their goals within the first year.”

2) Get rid of your “but” – We all have the habit of stating a positive thought or expression and connecting it with the word but. That negates the positive nature of the original statement. The listener doesn’t hear or believe the positive statement and will concentrate instead on the negative statement that comes after the but. That goes for self-talk as well. How many times do we say to ourselves, “That was a good interview but…. I wish I had….” Our brain doesn’t acknowledge the “nice interview” part. We obsess over what comes after the but.

3) Lose the word “Not” whenever possible. Especially during a sales pitch and in self-talk. There is psychological evidence that our brains do not process negative words. In other words, when we say we are not going to do something, our brain dismisses the word not and absorbs the rest of the sentence.
For example. If I tell you NOT to think of a fresh, moist, slice of rich chocolate cake… what image pops into your head. So instead of talking about what you are not going to do, rephrase the sentence to express what you are going to do instead.

4) Other words to lose are the generic words that have lost all real meaning. Like – “great” ,“nice” “fine”, “like” They are like empty calorie foods. They take up space but don’t really do anything to help your listener understand how you really feel about anything. So instead of saying what a “great” job somebody did, talk about how the specific task that the person accomplished showed how organized, forward thinking or persistent they were.

5) Words to Choose: The 12 most persuasive words based on a YALE study: You, Money, Save, New, Results, Help, Easy, Safety, Love, Proven, Guarantee, Discovery. Try them out the next time you do a sales presentation.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Communication Overload?

This holiday season, I really felt that I needed to give my brain a real vacation away from my business. As an entrepreneur, it's me and my business 24/7. Maybe I should have chosen not to check my email. But because I have a blackberry, I was constantly aware of emails coming in, people posting on facebook and linkedin and new twitter followers. Everytime I picked up the phone and saw some activity, I felt a small twang of guilt. Shouldn't I be doing something too? Shouldn't I be sending out holiday newsletters, blogging, tweeting? But what about the mental vacation I so desperately needed?? I stuck by my decision not to work but was it really a vacation? Not at all. Because I was working hard. Working at managing all the guilt and all the "Shoulds." that came from my not working. I also spent time wondering if my guilt was a result of a poor business attitude? Do I have a problem with being productive? We all struggle with whether we could/should be doing more but... Is it possible to do too much?

I am all about communication. I work hard to help people make their communication more effective. But can we Overcommunicate?? Are we sending, receiving, expecting too much from electronic communication? There are now business owners who send out daily newsletters. WHY? Why do I need to hear from someone everyday? Just wondering? Most people I speak to about this agreed that they felt overwhelmed by the amount of "electronic communication" they receive but it's become a kind of addiction. How many times do we pick up the phone anymore? How many meaningful face to face meetings do we engage in? I'm embarrased to admit that I fall prey to this myself. Last night, I emailed a close friend of mine because I had a question for her. I repeatedly checked my email to see if she had replied. She didn't. This morning I woke up realizing that I never even thought of picking up the phone. The thought never crossed my mind!! How sad is that? And this is a close friend. All this social media and electronic communication is efficient and effective but I really would love to champion two things: 1) sanctioned, guiltfree downtime. and 2)more face to face communication.

Let me know what you think.
(Photo "Mail" by Claire Olivia Moed)