Listen to what I say? Spoken language
You may not have thought about the relationship between spoken language and non-verbal communication, but there is a connection. It has less to do with what we say than with how we say it. Spoken language consists not only of the words themselves or their meaning, but also of (paralinguistic) characteristics such as our inner attitude, tone of voice, volume, speed, stress, possible speech disturbances or pauses - even the fact whether we speak or it to prefer to be silent allows for certain conclusions.
A boastful, hasty speaker is not so much distracted by the content of his utterances as by the way he presents them. Conversely, we appreciate the reassuring nature of a considerate and conscious orator, but soon become impatient when someone speaks too slowly. These are just a few examples of the nonverbal properties of spoken language. However, you will soon discover that there are aspects of communication beyond spoken language that can enhance or enhance our ability to communicate.
Less is sometimes more
Quick, who was Edward Everett? No, it's no shame if this name does not mean anything to you. Edward Everett was president of Harvard University, foreign minister and United States envoy to Britain and one of the country's best speakers. Three years before his death, he was asked to deliver the most significant speech of his life on a very important and solemn occasion. The event's purpose was to commemorate an episode in the history of the American nation, which was marked by deep suffering and great sacrifice, and to make tangible the terrible epic struggle in which the citizens were at that time. In front of an audience that had been waiting for days, Edward Everett gave a good two-hour speech (two hours and eight minutes, to be exact), which in every way met the expectations put to him as a gifted orator. Regrettably, his speech is the same as his name: no one remembers a single word.
After Everett had finished, the next speaker was introduced, and his speech is surprisingly remembered. He did not even speak a full three minutes and summed up the highly complex subject, as well as the countless victims, in 272 words - just ten short sentences. His speech was so brief that the photographers present did not even have the opportunity to get their machines ready; therefore there is no footage of this memorable speech. But his words live and reverberate in us today. The speech began with the most unlikely of all introductions that immediately captivated his listeners: "Before 87 years, our fathers founded ..." These 272 words, not the previous two-hour speech, turned the nail on its head. Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, held on the occasion of the inauguration of the Military Cemetery, is known worldwide for its simplicity and ability to illustrate the high price thousands of people have had to pay to keep the idea of a united democracy alive. This extraordinary speech had been written by a keen mind, legally trained and trained to influence juries, or, as in this case, its attentive listeners and a deeply torn nation. Lincoln understood too well that more is not always better; most people appreciate it when complex issues are kept simple. The brevity of a message can even amplify its message, which in this way lingers in the memory longer.
The nonverbal art of listening
In order to truly understand one's counterpart, two things are absolutely essential: empathy and active listening. The Chinese character for »listening« is comparatively complex; it consists of the characters for "ear," "eyes," "heart," and "undivided attention." There is a world of difference between listening and listening with empathy.
Think of someone you like to trust. He or she is probably an empathic listener. There are studies that show physicians are less likely to be sued if they listen attentively to their patients, express compassion and show calming gestures (for example, by making physical contact). Stockbrokers who can listen attentively to their clients are less likely to be criticized when an investment turns out to be unprofitable or stock prices fall. The Executive, who has an open ear for the personal or professional problems of her employees, can reinforce her loyalty by simply listening, even if she can not actively contribute to the improvement of the situation.
Talk to me
Closely related to active listening is the verbal mirroring, which goes back to the work of the well-known psychologist and author Carl Rogers (1902-1987). Verbal mirroring is a simple yet amazingly effective therapeutic method to quickly connect with another person. I found them very useful as part of my FBI work to open channels of communication that might have remained closed in a less empathic approach.
Rogers argued that building a more effective therapeutic relationship with each question posed the person's psyche. He achieved this by listening to what his patients had to say, and then literally used that information to respond to it. When his patient said "my home," Rogers mirrored the patient's verbal behavior by using the term "home" rather than "house." When the patient said "my child," Rogers also used the word "child," not "small" or "daughter." Verbal mirroring is a helpful tool in fields where it is important to build rapport, that is, a positive connection; This is especially true for medical professionals, psychologists, sellers, financial service providers and politicians.
Unfortunately, most people are ludicrously selfish in language and prefer to use their own terms to build and shape a conversation. However, in order to communicate with the greatest possible effectiveness, it is advisable to use the language of your counterpart; This reflects what is going on in the other person 's head and thus creates a calming effect on the linguistic - and even mental - level. By the way, you are on the same wavelength as your correspondent.
I'm over 50 years old, and in my youth we had "problems," not "differences." If somebody asks me, "Are there any differences on your side?", I feel less addressed than in the phrase, "Do you have a problem with it?" For me, "differences" are less important, and I assume that many people my generation, as well as the even older semesters, the same view.
The inability to reflect language preferences
The inability to mirror language preferences often comes up in my business seminars. The businessmen present there assume that their clients understand the same terms as they do. But that does not necessarily have to be the case. You need to listen attentively. So if your client asks, "How much will the fun cost me?" You should avoid talking about the "price level." Because otherwise you talk, but do not communicate effectively and certainly not compassionate and at eye level.
If a client says "he is worried about the economic situation," you should tell him that you can understand his "fear"; Do not answer sentences like, "I can understand you're worried." He has no "concerns" but "fear"! By picking up on the words of your interlocutor (that is, focusing on your counterparts, not on yourself), you make him understand that you can fully empathize with him. The other person unconsciously feels at a deeper level and tends to react more receptively to you.
The common linguistic denominator is important
I learned early on in my career how important it is to find a common language denominator. Namely, once I had to deal with a fugitive offender. After arresting him near Kingman, Arizona, he started telling his life. In the course of the conversation, as we went to the judge, I picked up all the terms he had used before: "unpleasant," "embarrassing," "worried," and "a good Christian." I assured him that I understood that the whole thing was embarrassing, that it would be uncomfortable to get arrested, and that he was certainly worried about what his mother thought of him, especially since he was a good Christian. As a result, he summoned me on the short drive to Phoenix. He revealed things that had escaped other investigators, including more victims. I did not receive this confession because I was very clever, but because I realized the power that verbal reflection can unfold.
So listen to your clients, patients, employees, and business associates, pay attention to the terms they use, and use them to your advantage. The same goes for your friends and family. You will find that you are perceived as a much more empathetic and attentive listener.
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German edition: ISBN 9783965962545
English version: ISBN 9783965962552 (Translation notice)
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