How mindful are you of the words you use? Both within your internal dialogue and the way you communicate with others?
In 1967, Albert Mehrabian conducted a very specific communication study that has since been widely over generalised for more than 40 years. This has generated the myth that only 7% of our communication is down to the language we use. Language has considerably more than 7% influence! In terms of the dialogue we have internally with ourselves and the words we use with others.
How we ‘Think’ and ‘See’ our world is shaped by the language we use on a daily basis. This impacts on what we ‘Do’.
The problem is that we’re not fully aware of the language we use, and much of this can be on autopilot. This can result in the use of unchecked negative language, doubtful language and mannerisms.
I train people in public speaking and I often pick up on mannerisms such as “like”, “you know what I mean”, “kind of”, “mmmm”. These can all dilute the message.
It’s important for us all to be significantly more conscious of the language we use.
In this article we are going to examine the language we use and misuse.
This is also explored in more depth in my latest ‘Leadership Mindset – Think, See, Do’ podcast episode.
You can access the podcast:
• on my website here
• on iTunes here
• on Stitcher here
• You can also search for Leadership Mindset by Tony Brooks on podcast Apps which you can find on iTunes, Stitcher, podcast Apps or on my website by clicking here.
A) Doubtful Language
How frequently do you use words that show doubt? “Try”, “hope”, “maybe”, “possibly”, “I think”. I recently heard a senior leader use the expression “possibly try” – is there any certainty in that whatsoever? If you use doubtful language, you give yourself and others an excuse to opt out or not deliver. Don’t ask one of your people to “try” and hit a deadline. Use more certain language.
B) Negative Language
Even worse than doubtful language is negative language. Words that create blockers for us. “Can’t”, “not good”, “nervous”, “fear”. I also recommend being wary of the word “but”. “I can do that, but…….”. But is a negater, for ourselves and others. As with doubtful language, be conscious of the negative words you use and shift them to be more supportive.
Language can also be over complicated. We can use too much jargon and long sentences with redundant words. Keep an eye out for jargon, complex words, and overlong sentences in your written and spoken language. Keep things simple. Remember the power of repetition too. Who remembers “Yes we can” or “I have a dream”?!
D) Language and Thought
In Psychology there was a theory developed in 1929 called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. It stated that language determines thought. This was too strong and has been adapted to the proven theory that language influences thought. Eskimos have 50 words for snow and therefore see snow in more intricate ways than we do. This is just one simple example of how language can shape how we ‘Think’ and ‘See’ our worlds.
E) Internal Barriers
Our biggest barriers are formed internally. Our language influences our mindset. How we ‘Think’, ‘See’ and ‘Do’. What we say to ourselves becomes our reality. Put much more focus on the language you use, internally and externally, and shift it to remove your barriers.
I invite you to take the time to listen to the podcast to go into this in more depth.