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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