We have discussed on a number of occasions the unacceptable cost to business of their inadvertent miscommunication. We have meticulously highlighted ways to ensure that our communication is both clear and accurate.  In addition we have diligently developed positive ideas for the steps we need to take to guarantee that we are received as ‘credible’ speakers.

In fact we have at all times your best interests at heart.  We are positively positive about the ways in which you should communicate. Alas – would that all were as pure in heart!!!

If you re-read the first paragraph and focus on the adjectives used – except for the sentence which highlights the problem – the rest are couched in positively beneficent terms.

‘Meticulously’, ‘Diligently’ – doesn’t that picture us poring over books, checking facts with amazing attention to detail?

‘Ensure’ – make positively certain; ‘clear’, ‘accurate’, ‘developed’ and ‘guarantee’ which gives an air of inevitability to the whole process.

The end result is an atmosphere of benevolence – the reader finishes with a feeling that we can make a real difference to their ability to communicate; which (as a business) we would like to foster.  So our appeal is to your better nature; your wish for self development; it is couched in positive terms.

This is fine of course; there is nothing wrong with us pointing out the positive outcomes we can provide for you – as long as we can deliver on that promise!

(And we can – I hasten to add; check out the website for the testimonials to that fact!!)

But there is another type of communication that sets out to create an attitude for you which fits in with their agenda, and which may not be based on evidence or facts.  In which the appeal is ephemeral, but which would create in the readers or the listeners an emotional commitment to action not substantiated by the evidence.

This is miscommunication by design.

Sometimes it is done by deliberately misrepresenting what has truly been stated.  Film critics get used to this!

Joe Bloggs in the Daily Rag has reviewed the latest offering of a film noir by that darling of the ‘avant guarde’, Desdemona Plunkett – he was not impressed …

“Desdemona Plunkett’s latest film” he writes in the Daily Rag “is based on the blockbuster novel ‘Darkness at Midnight’ – but the novel which grips the audience with the great suspense works with far less effect in this mediocre effort.”

Translated by those versed in miscommunication by design it becomes:

Desdemona Plunkett’s latest film … the blockbuster which grips the audience with suspense!”

We’ve all read them and thought “WOW! Must go and see that one” only to be disappointed when we got there.  If we are wise, we begin to discount the hype and ask people who have seen it for a real opinion.

The simple choice of words can make a real emotional impact on the way we view ideas, attitudes or even people themselves.

“Did you read that slanderous email from Fred?  It’s so demeaning, so condescending that I felt really insulted.” If you haven’t read it, you are now expecting something that could make the headlines on the six o’clock news – and your opinion of Fred would probably be affected.

You would have to make an effort to find the email and read it to make up your own mind; and how many of us would do that in a busy day – we are left with an impression which may not be founded on fact. 

Adjectives are not called ‘emotive words” for nothing – they are used specifically to highlight emotions that we feel and are very descriptive. For instance, when we hear … “There was no paper in the copier again, that makes me furious, especially when I am in a hurry!”  we get a good picture of the frustration this person feels.

But if we hear … “That stupid woman forgot to check the copier paper again – such incompetence makes me furious!” we have a different picture in our minds.

The careful choice of adjectives is a very effective way to load our communication with emotive content.  If we use it wisely we can create a powerful message which speaks directly to our listener’s heart. That is not necessarily a bad thing – if we can back that up with clear evidence.

If a message relies too much on the emotive words, the passionate voice, and the energy levels; we may be the victims of miscommunication by design in an attempt to obtain our consent to someone else’s agenda.  If there is a great deal of emotion and very little information we may be forgiven for believing there are no facts available to support the emotion.

Why not listen to the news tonight with that thought in mind, and see if you can pick the opinion based on evidence and the one based only on emotion. And see how really powerful and effective is the one that bases their arguments on facts and appeals to our emotions.

Balance in all things is the key to real communication.
Michele @ Trischel

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