“Words are but pictures of our thoughts.” –John Dryden (English poet and playwright)
Do you pay attention to your language? The specific words you use to describe yourself, your actions, your goals, your plans, etc. Over the next few blog posts, I’m going to invite you to pay attention to the words you choose to use and why our choice of language is important when it comes to living our best life. After all, we only have one shot at it; why not make it the best?
Professor Albert Mehrabian, currently Professor Emeritus of Psychology at UCLA, is a pioneer in the understanding of communication and is most well-known for his publications on the relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages when communicating feelings and attitudes. In face-to-face communication, words, tone and body language need to be congruent for the listener to believe and accept the words used by the speaker. If the words, tone and body language don’t line up, the listener will interpret the message based on the tone of voice and body language of the speaker.
It is important to point out that his findings, and the theory resulting from them, are particularly useful in explaining the importance of understanding meaning in communication as distinct from words alone. So, when we discuss our emotions with our co-workers, family or friends, we need to be congruent. For example, if you say, “I don’t have a problem with you!” while you avoid eye-contact, appear anxious, and tap your foot on the floor, the listener will most likely trust what they see, not what they hear, and won’t believe a word of it!
My first invitation to you is to pay attention to the alignment of your messages over the next few days. When describing how you feel, do your words, tone of voice and body language match? If not, why not? I’d love to hear your comments! Please post them here.