Words that make you feel

Words not only express ideas and contain information but many also transmit emotion. Just try reading the words below, one line at a time and see how they make you feel. Happiness           Healthy             Success           Celebration Misery                 Depressed         Failure            Sadness Taking into account the impact of these words on you, it should come as no surprise that you are much be likely to have a positive influence on your listeners and readers if you choose words that evoke positive emotions. This is particularly important when it comes to words that may mean essentially the same thing but could pack a very different kind of emotional punch. Consider for example: “thrifty” vs “cheap”                  “strong” vs “forceful”                “prudent” vs “cautious” Being aware that words can mean different things to different people – and understanding which words may have negative connotations for those you are addressing –  will support you in making appropriate choices to build the the kind of feeling that best serves your purpose. In general, people like to be spoken to directly and to feel engaged and involved. Instead of talking in abstract terms or using the passive voice, sprinkle your dialogue “you” and “we” and “us”; when you are aiming for cooperation try replacing “Will you please do…” with “Let’s do…” No-one wants to feel confused, bored or insulted either. So keep your language and sentence structure simple, clear and jargon-free; use verb-driven language to create a sense of action and excitement and stay away from all words that imply judgements or could be interpreted as offensive. Here is a real life example of...

The magic of metaphors

Metaphors and analogies are very powerful tools in communication. If you can encourage people not just to hear you but to see, feel and experience what it is you are talking about then your message will be stronger. This kind of enhancement  also means that listeners will be more emotionally engaged. Even simple, common place metaphors work well and their very familiarity is an advantage. They are  instantly recognisable  but their impact is much more far-reaching.  Whilst we may hear the same words when a speaker says someone is “as cold as ice”, each person associates into unique images and experiences that are theirs alone. It this individualised association that makes metaphors so powerful and draws the audience in.   Each language tends to have its own variations and specialties and not all metaphors cross borders well. Here are some examples from the English language: As warm as toast                     As bright as the sun                   As mad as a box of frogs                 All froth and no coffee          Painting the town red               Pulling a rabbit from a hat     You can also build in references to well-known stories, myths, historical and literary figures if they illustrate your point well and if you can be sure your audience will get them. Great communicators not only understand the magical appeal of metaphors. They are often masterful at painting pictures with words too so that their messages become more memorable. They will not just tell you that they ate a good meal; they describe how the food looked, how it smelled and vividly linger on the various tastes. The will not simply say...

Words to impress

When your goal is to be influential and get people on your side,  choosing your words carefully is critical if you want to shape the way people respond to you. Careful repackaging of words and expressions that for some could have negative connotations is a skill that can be developed.  And let’s face it, some words and expressions are simply superior to others because they do seem so much more positive. Why talk about “overcoming problems” when you can “rise to a challenge”? Why “fight objections” when you can “address legitimate concerns”? When it comes to numbers, “76 out of 100” is “more than three-quarters” and “49 out of 100” is “less than half”. Do you want to “fire” people or “let them go”, talk about something that is “expensive” or “top of the range”? This kind of repackaging – downplaying the negatives and upweighting the positives – is a legitimate rhetorical technique and can help you to make a favourable impression. However, the technique comes with a health warning attached. Remember there are some people out there who simply appreciate it when you call a spade a spade. If you make every negative a positive, they will soon see through your technique and switch off. Most importantly, The Training Box advises using this technique with “Win/Win” in mind and not with a view to manipulating. It is appropriate when whatever it is you want to persuade people about truly has benefits for them or when plain speaking could lead to disastrous consequences or unproductive, heightened emotions. If you enjoyed this post, you might also like to read  “The...