The way of the word

It pays to con­sider what we’re go­ing to say be­fore we say it

Life & Style Weekend - - MIND - Nick Bennett

WORDS. We hear them, read them and are driven by them ev­ery day. How many do you use and to what ef­fect? Re­cently I was in­volved in an in­ter­est­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in which the con­ver­sa­tion was dom­i­nated by one per­son. This per­son seemed blindly un­aware of the im­pact that their stream of con­scious­ness/ver­bal di­a­tribe was hav­ing on their au­di­ence that – po­litely per­haps – couldn’t es­cape. The out­pour­ing was lib­er­ally lit­tered with ob­scen­i­ties that added no value to what was be­ing said and in fact di­min­ished the will­ing­ness of peo­ple to lis­ten.

As an ex­tro­vert, I’ve also had a ten­dency to speak my thoughts to find a main idea that could be shaped and de­vel­oped into some prac­ti­cal out­come. The ef­fect of that was to thor­oughly con­fuse my team, my wife and from time to time my friends as I’d take them on a jour­ney which of­ten would go so far left of field that it be­came fan­tasy rather than a so­lu­tion.

The adage that the only thing I have con­trol over in this world is me, got me think­ing about the value of words and the gift we’ve been given re­gard­ing lan­guage, thought and the ca­pac­ity to speak. It has also had me re­view the words that I use, the think­ing and in­ten­tion be­hind those words and very much the im­pact on oth­ers of what I say or write.

What that has done is to make me lis­ten more and ex­press less. It has made me re­alise that com­mu­ni­ca­tion done well is al­most an art form and is driven by the value we place on the other per­son or peo­ple who are in­volved in any di­a­logue.

The great­est writ­ers of our age use a paucity of words to con­vey pow­er­ful mean­ing which con­nects with the reader. Imag­ine if we all could do that. Use the bare min­i­mum of well thought out words, clearly fo­cused on sub­ject and lis­tener, that pro­vide sim­ple clar­ity in ei­ther reader or lis­tener and that con­nect them in a way that as­sists to re­solve is­sues or solve prob­lems.

How much aware­ness do you have about the im­pact of your words? How much time do you spend con­sid­er­ing your in­ten­tion

The adage that the only thing I have con­trol over in the world is me, got me think­ing about the value of words

be­hind what you say? Is it your ego shap­ing your com­ment so you’re com­pet­ing with oth­ers or are you com­mit­ted to be­ing clear?

Per­son­ally I do not see my­self as a great com­mu­ni­ca­tor. I’d re­ally like to be, and given my re­sponse to the sit­u­a­tion I de­scribed ear­lier there’s plenty of room for a lot more prac­tice on my part.

How about you?

Nick Bennett is a fa­cil­i­ta­tor, performanc­e coach and part­ner of Minds Aligned: www.mind­


An un­think­ing tirade is not go­ing to re­solve any mis­un­der­stand­ing be­tween two peo­ple.

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