Showing posts from August, 2017

Use your common senses to communicate more clearly

What's the difference between a concept and a formula?  Between a strategy and a blueprint? Between a hypothetical and an example?
In each of these pairs, the first one is impossible for most people to imagine. They know what the word means, but it is not attached to any sensory representation.  The second one is equally "business-like," but it's something a reader or listener could imagine using their senses. They could see or hear or feel something that would tell them more than the word itself about what you wanted to communicate.
Artists regularly turn concepts into images. Good speakers and writers do the same thing: they evoke the senses so that people have something easier to observe and remember than abstractions are. This doesn't mean being choosing more descriptive words: it means imagining what you want to communicate as something you can see, hear and feel and then stripping your language down to match what you are imagining.

Of course, abstractions a…

The difference between affirming a truth and wishing something were true

"Affirm" is such a strong word. Just say it out loud and you realize it lands with weight. Affirm sounds like something you can trust. "Wish," on the other hand, is a bit wispy, a bit flimsy. You don't expect wishes to become real, but you should expect that what you affirm is already real, already true.

Merriam Webster defines affirm as meaning to validate or confirm. It's a solid word.

You have to turn the word into a noun (verbs lose their oomph when you turn them into nouns) to find the Oxford English Dictionary defining affirmation as "emotional support or encouragement."

In the self-development world, of course, affirmations are something that you repeat in the belief that saying something will make it true. This is a sort of combination of saying something solid and saying something encouraging.

If you want affirmations to work, either in encouraging yourself or in supporting others, you have to validate or confirm something  you believe to …

Language will keep you afloat but it takes motivation and connection to move

People often ask me for two things when they want to improve their communication. They want to know more words and they want to know language patterns that they can memorize to get results.
This is a picture of a long canoe. It seats up to 11 people.  It's very stable: if you're taking inexperienced tourists out for a paddle on the marsh, you want them to stay on top of the water, not in it. But does that make it good as a canoe? It depends on whether you want to stay afloat or get moving.
I don't know how fast this canoe goes or for how long because that depends on who is in the boat, what they know, and how much they are willing to work as a team to move the boat.
Language is like this long canoe. It keeps us afloat: if we have words, we have the possibility of connecting through conversation. But if we want that conversation to go somewhere, we need more than words. We need muscle and coordination. The muscle comes from knowing what you want. The coordination comes fro…

Lives change during conversations on this step

Welcome to the view from the front steps of the building where we train. At this time of year, the garden is beautiful and the park is green and lively. Sitting on these steps, you can watch the traffic go by or you can let your thoughts drift. But if you want your life to change on these steps, you'll want someone to talk with.

Front steps are a special place, a portal between inside and outside. They signal the movement of information and influence between what is kept behind closed doors and what circulates with the traffic outside. When two people meet in a space that is both inside and outside, remarkable conversations happen. They share a paradox, a space that is both private and public. And through that space, they are motivated to connect more fluidly and more deeply.

It's possible to have a front-steps conversation at any time of year, but it's definitely best when the sun is shining and the air is warm. As you talk about whatever comes up, you feel both connecte…