On the heels of “Preparation Breeds Success” published in the fall of 2014, here is an excerpt of the upcoming new release in the “Breeds” series. “Wise Words Breed Success” is about applying language in a way to improve the intended message. The beginning is presented here. Final content including the Title is at the discretion of my Publisher.
I hope to have this out by the Spring of 2016. I’m looking for proof readers and editors (content and style). Post or send me a message if interested.
Wise Words Breed Success
No. This is not a book of quotes by the great thinkers, scientists, statesmen, poets, philosophers or struggling non-fiction authors. It is about learning to use communication to your advantage. In all aspects of our lives, there is no more universal truth than anything communicated has an intent. While this may seem obvious – because it is when you think about it – the content of what is said or written and the manner in which it is presented can be interpreted in many ways and alter the effect. This can be intentional or sub-conscious, but the fact remains that communicative interpretation is a learned trait of everyone. Knowing what those traits may be of whom you are delivering a message to and catering your words and phrases for the best result is a valuable. Yet, little attention is paid to this contrivance.
Literate Native English speakers know between 12,000 and 20,000 words suitable for Webster to publish, with college educated folks coming in around 17,000. Naturally, all walks of life and education levels have variances in both direction. The number is not as important as the fact that virtually every one of the words has two or more impacts depending on the context in which they are used. This becomes increasingly larger when applied to phrases or sentences of increasing length. Now, applying the use of synonyms, prefixes, suffixes or excrescent* (that was number 20,001 for me) words for example your head will explode with the total number of taken meanings a simple statement can have.
*ex·cres·cent – adjective – growing normally out of something else; superfluou
“He is a man among boys” is a common phrase that most everyone knows. If you were to say instead “he is a man AMONGST boys,” the phrase has a stronger meaning. Perhaps using among indicates the boys are teenagers and the man is a good athlete in his 20’s where the use of amongst is a 30 something world champion heavy weight boxer playing with toddlers. Subtle? Yes, but you get the point. Contained herein (yup, I went there) we will use many examples such as this and how being aware of it, will help you deliver an intended message.
In addition to looking at the interpretive aspect of words or tone in communication, we will talk over how this understanding is applied from every facet of communication; daily conversation, debate, marketing products and ideas, correspondence, letters, speeches or presentations and even just plain old writing. You can compare and contrast using the same language for each communication category yet tweak it for a preferred outcome. This requires that you recognize word usage and tone in conjunction with the audience. This premise should factor into your personal and professional life. Is this important to think about all the time? No. Yet you should be aware it still has an impact and some situations, and is a critical component of getting what you want.Among and amongst mean the same thing. They are kind of synonyms, yet amongst is excrescent as the “st” ending is not technically required (or is that technically not required?) Legalese is full of excrescent words. The point here is not to expand your vocabulary, but rather to notice subtleties in the application and meaning of the same word or group of words.
“A play on words” is a very common tactic employed for advertisements, company slogans, song lyrics and, most prominently, by the catchphrase writers at ESPN. This “playing” game is probably something you do notice, because they can be funny, clever, thought provoking, obtuse or, in ESPN’s case, simply annoying. This is a classic example of creative word use.
|1. “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing”||A. Red Grange|
|2. “Back, back, back, back!””||B. American Express|
|3. “Hand built by robots”||C. Alka Seltzer|
|4. “The Greatest Show on Earth”||D. New York City|
|5. “The Galloping Ghost”||E. ESPN – Chris Berman|
|6. “The Big Apple”||F. Fiat|
|7. “Just do it”||G. Barnum & Bailey Circus|
|8. “Don’t leave home without it”||H. Nike|
Now, grab a pen, seize a writing instrument or click a Bic. Go ahead and connect the phrase in the first column that goes with the second column. OK. This is dumb, but it illustrates how prevalent phrase choice is in everyday life. You may be familiar and even like some of these, or you may not (sorry Chris). The point is, if you can make a connection between the columns, the word usage achieved its intended purpose.
While we’re on the subject, let’s interject the appropriate method of communicating the perfect message. Is it a face-to-face meeting? Is it a phone call? Is a letter best or can you get away with an e-mail? If all else is unavailable, you can always get in your car, forget to buckle up, crank the tunes, hit cruise control and send a text…LOL! The point again here is producing the desired result. Word choice and order, phraseology, tone of “voice” and means of delivery need to work in concert for the optimum effect.
Do not underestimate the impact of “tone.” We all have received text messages or e-mails, that do not include a salutation, contains typos or is so direct it is almost offensive. This is particularly important in business. If your first interaction with a co-worker or a client, is delivered in writing, digitally, the last thing to do is to come off haughty or bored. Like dressing for a job interview – you can almost never overdress – first correspondence is your fist impression. Be courteous, show interest and don’t start with “Dear BFF.” Start and end with an optimistic word or two. “Looking forward to working with you” and “Good luck!” come to mind.
If your initial contact is verbal, it is easier to make a judgment about a person as it is for they to initiate an opinion of you. Are they chatty or all business? Do they seem interested in what you are saying by asking questions? What is their speaking IQ? Can you interject the excrescent word or should you just say unnecessary? Some cultures are more formal than others such as many Asian countries. Note this and be professional, polite and complimentary. In other words, suck up to them. This is a case of observation in real time and reacting accordingly.
Simply put, choose words and phrases carefully. Set the proper tone of the message. Know or learn the traits of the recipient(s) of the message and deliver it appropriately.
I broke my own rule to start this book. I’ll expand on it later. So, if you are intrigued, please read on. If you’re not, READ ON PLEASE!
Copyright 2015 Michael F. Hotchkiss