Thursday, July 05, 2007

It's Not What You Say It's What People Hear

I hate that this great phrase is being used by political spinmeister Frank Luntz as the subtitle for his new book. Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear is about using verbal chicanery to manipulate people's viewpoints. But let's set aside Luntz's less than honorable objectives and focus on the very practical concept of paying attention to what people hear rather than on what you think you said. This is a great strategy for effective communication in the workplace. As we all have experienced, what we mean to say, isn't always what is received by our listen (or reader).

With today's quick communication and multi-tasking half listening, it's easy to have your message perceived in a completely different, often opposite, way than that which you intended. In the workplace, these kinds of miscommunications can have severe consequences; lost business deals, co-worker conflicts, lost promotions, employees quitting in a huff. You can prevent this by making sure you use a little extra effort whenever you communicate. Take your time to formulate your message, think before you speak, review before you push the send button, clarify ambiguous pronouns (to who or what does "she, he or it" refer?) and put yourself in your listener's shoes. Focusing on the listener even just a little bit can pay-off in big ways. Even without resorting to Luntz's verbal manipulation tricks.


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