Thursday, May 19, 2011

Say it!

Complete the following phrase:

"It's not WHAT you say, it's..."
No doubt most of you are probably thinking, "it's HOW you say it". Right?

In communication, how you say something and your body language, while making the biggest impact, are still not as important as the hearer's perception.

Sad but true. Why sad? Because no matter how carefully you word a response, and even if you send it in written form so your expression, tone and posture are no long taken into consideration, you can still be drastically misunderstood.

Communication is an art! It takes practice and dedication like any other art form.

Sure, there are times when you will get by with relaxed and open dialogues for months on end. Your posture, tone and words are honest and taken as such. But first impressions, tense situations and confrontations are where you have to choose not only your words, but your every move carefully.

And even the best speaker can stumble if the receiver has already determined your meaning before you utter a single word. And since we are all so unique in our personal experiences, likes, dislikes and beliefs, perception is the most volatile and is extremely difficult to take into consideration.

When planning a speech, you need to research your audience, and try to get a feel for their perceptions and interests, but in life no one prepares you or warns you that words hold little weight in an actual conversation. Sure we hear how powerful words are, how they can be used as a weapon, used against us, and even set us free. But words used during a conversation will only go as far as the one hearing you will allow.

This doesn't mean we shouldn't try to choose our words carefully, it is however just to show you that no matter what you say sometimes, you can't get through to everyone.

Also think about it this way...

There is usually one or more people that really get under your skin. I mean they really know how to push your buttons! No matter what they say you tense up and wait for the zinger. Your perception of them has been tainted and no matter what they say you will view it through that haze.

Now try to imagine if your favorite speaker told you the exact same thing. Would you react differently? Maybe you would actually listen and not just hear the words spoken. How would you feel? No longer upset, but thoughtful, and just because the perception was not prejudiced by the speaker of the words.

I try to see things from many angles before I reach conclusions, but face facts, we all jump the gun and rush to judgment sometimes. It's human nature. It's part of survival instincts that will never be erased. And shouldn't!

But remember next time you grind your teeth when someone is about to speak to you, try to focus on the words more and let the perception be.

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