Entries by admin

What’s in a name? Names, labels and depression



There are a few lines in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the “what’s in a name?” lines about names and titles and labels. Juliet is locked in passionate conversation with Romeo, talking about the fact that the obstacle to their joy is nothing more and nothing less than his family name. ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy; […]

Big ego, small ego

We can all recognise the big ego. It’s usually one or all of self-important, self-righteous and self-serving. We don’t hear much about the small ego. The small ego is self-deprecating and self-devaluing. The small ego is people-pleasing. The small ego is projecting our worst opinions about ourselves into the minds of others. The small ego […]

Self-acceptance in nine words

This week has been a big one for me and my Life Well Lived project. On Tuesday I pressed “Publish” on my first podcast interview, with Jessica Robson of Run Talk Run. A couple of days later I was sitting down to talk with another inspirational female runner. Sinead Kane may be blind, but she […]

Jour sans

Last weekend I made the short trip from my home to Kells for some of the events of Tailteann, a festival of sports and sport-writing put on by the organisers of the summer’s Hinterland literary festival in the town. The weekend’s final event and the best attended was an interview with Paul Kimmage, one of […]

Oasis B-sides, memory and the synapses of the brain

As I was got into the car to set off for the day at shortly after 6.30am the other morning, I idly flicked on the radio. I’m not a regular radio listener, not any more. These days I’m more a hummingbird type, hovering and flitting until I find a bit of nectar to sustain for […]

Technology and Distraction – The Third Paradox of Life and Living in 2018

The 21st century is characterised by unprecedented technology and distraction and opportunity. Our challenge right now is to take advantage of the omnipresent opportunities while lifting ourselves above the omnipresent noise. This is the third in a short series of articles about the paradoxes of life and living in a first-world, developed country in 2018. […]

Agreeableness and amiability

I started my TEDx talk about depression and happiness last year by saying, “For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved words.” Words fascinate me endlessly. Not just in their shape and meaning, but also in their different uses and interpretations. In reading about the so-called “Big Five” personality traits over the past few […]

The words we use, and how we use them

Talk is cheap, as they say.

What I've come to realise is not just how cheap talk is, and it can be very cheap, but how inadequate it is, too.

The trivial consequence: How often have you thought of the perfect retort ... hours after the opportunity came to actually say it?

The serious consequence: Incoherence and confusion are everywhere in life, and imprecise speech is usually the common denominator.

The words we use

The words we use are important and powerful, but words spoken typically bring about more confusion than clarity, or more hurt than inspiration.

Inspiration, when it comes, arrives by way of a lot more than mere words. Inspiration comes from charisma, it comes from body language, it comes from the electrical charge of the sentiments and honesty and humility and confidence behind the words much more than the mere words themselves.

It's often said that about the best public speakers, that their audience will forget all about what the speaker said, but remember forever how s/he made them feel.

Public speaking, then, is much more than the words spoken.

And the best words spoken are often first the best words written.

Leaving them that way (written, not spoken) might be the surest bet to getting your message across.

That brings a different challenge, of course. The challenge brought about by the collapse in human attention spans, by the proliferation of promotional marketing, by email fatigue and by the way we now surface-scan rather than deep-read.

But still, if clarity is a requirement, it's hard to beat a few words carefully chosen and written down.

(P.S. Because speech is so inadequate, so many work meetings are less than worthless, wasting precious time where instead of random talk, and all the incoherence and confusion it brings, people could be creating and contributing.)


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