Leveraging Powerful Words to Create Effective Communication
When people communicate using an abundance of large words, we have a tendency to lose focus, which actually makes these big words counterproductive.
This premise was tested by Oppenheimer who discovered that the overuse of superfluous words caused subjects to feel the message was unclear and that the author was unintelligent.
Another paper, by Kutas and Hillyard, helps explain why so many people often jump to these conclusions. They discovered that when hearing long or unusual words, the brain creates an Event-Related Brain Potential (ERP) that lasts for 100ms.
During ERP, the brain needs time to recover while it decodes, translates, or ignores the word before returning to listen. Thus, while the person using the uncommon word continues speaking, the listener’s brain is still recovering from the ERP.
When the listener’s brains return to active listening, they likely missed parts of the conversation.
Treat Uncommon Words as a Teaching Opportunity
Understandably, communicating with common words proves to be more effective than using superfluous words. However, that’s not to say we should avoid large words altogether.
On the contrary, people learn by hearing new words, and we can teach new words by placing them tactfully in everyday language.
This becomes especially important in communicating messages with BRM Language. We have the ability to teach others through every conversation.
Understanding the Language of BRM
When communicating about the value driven by a BRM capability, the technical BRM might effectively communicate with a sentence like this:
“A strong BRM capability converges cross-functional teams and eliminates value-depleting organizational silos while promoting shared ownership across the enterprise.”
Granted, this sentence powerfully explains how a BRM capability impacts an organization. However, to the untrained listener, the sentence is full of words that would make it hard to comprehend.
When interacting with people unfamiliar with BRM Language, try to teach them at the same time you communicate your message.
Rephrased, this sentence might look something like:
“An effective BRM capability converges teams across departments to drive value. In doing so, the BRM eliminates restrictive silos, while promoting a sense of unity through shared ownership.”
This description of a BRM capability feels more approachable because common language separates the technical words from each other. Ultimately, this allows the listener’s brain to recover from the ERP while they digest the meaning.
Try this simple exercise to improve your ability to teach and communicate messages.
- Highlight the words that others might not know.
- Select 1-2 words you would like to teach.
- Replace the remaining words with more common language.
- Shorten the sentences.
- Use your message by separating the technical words from each other.
Understandably, this may prove difficult to do during an active and engaging conversation. Through practice, however, we can make teaching a natural part of interpersonal communication. If we apply this to our everyday conversations, we can use our BRM vocabulary to help drive a unified business culture.
Our words carry power. If we actively seek to use powerful words sparingly to teach others, our communication skills will naturally improve. By communicating effectively with these powerful words, we can convey our message with patience and gain the most important relationship attributes: trust and understanding.
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Nice article Jon.
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