We communicate. Why?

In a commentary for CNN, Zachary Wolf once diagnosed a contemporary discomfort: “This is what makes covering Donald Trump so very difficult: What does he mean when he says words?”. Various analyses (see, for instance, a splendid insight by The Nerdwriter) seem to suggest it’s not sense that Trump is about. But we all experience a similar dilemma every day – in contexts very distant from the White House. If we so often don’t know what we mean, why do we communicate at all?

 

Above all, we celebrate freedom. Be it in oral communication, traditional written communication or in e-mailing: words, words, words everywhere, coming in different shapes and sizes. You decline a noun or conjugate a verb, you attach a prefix or add a suffix, and you can even create your very own word and add it to the already vast repertoire. George W. Bush exercised this freedom with his “Internets”, Kellyanne Conway proposed “alternative facts” and we all get crazy on “post-truth”. The more words, the more choices, the more of us. Since sky is the limit when it comes to picking our favourite expressions, we love to say whatever we, and only we, want.

 

We communicate because we want display. You know this so well: a burning feeling that what we have to say is of such an enormous importance that it can no longer be kept inside. The gut sensation that makes you feed your Twitter with a bit of yourself, right in the morning. We’re human banners, aren’t we? Just look at demonstrators: they manifest their dissatisfaction with big shouts and posters spelled in capital letters accompanied by strong graphic presentations. And yes, communication can become violent at times. Or merely stupid, if the show needs it.

 

We communicate because we want to be a part of community. Need to talk to somebody, share problems or laugh and have a good time. Business people get their therapies at Fuckup Nights, coders come to coworking spaces to escape solitude, and Polish patriots get a panoply of symbols onto their celebratory banners to belong. However bizarre it seems.

 

We communicate to change reality. Think of all the spells, curses, prayers, and even pep talk. Think of conspiracy theories. Words can make and they can break, they can empower and disempower, as Nischala Kaushik says in her poem. Wonder Woman tells Ares in a very strong voice: “I am Diana of Themyscira, daughter of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons… in the name of all that it is good… your wrath upon this world… is OVER!” And this is it, case closed.

Using language, we frequently influence people because we want them to behave in a particular manner that would be in some way beneficial for us. Politicians, coaches, managers, sales people, marketing people… They all do that: use language to shape the conduct of their audience. Many of them are versed in psychology of communication so they can easily predict what kind of message the addressee wants to receive. “Because You Are Worth It” – this slogan is just a perfect example here.

Language offers a huge variety of tools to structure communication. You can start with appropriate register, proper wording, or even a tone of voice. People tend to vote for politicians with lower voices because depth is associated with power and authority. Julian Treasure, in one of his TED talks, offers great advice on these issues. And last but not least, body language. Next time you speak to someone keep eye contact, mind your hands and smile. Think of your addressee, think of the situation and choose the best option to get on the same wavelength.

 

Empathy can do the work here, because it wins us trust and following. That is a complex phenomenon, sure, but if you care about your interlocutors getting engaged with you, try to give them a red-carpet treatment. Believe me, they will return the favour. It is not magic, it is just the way mirror neurons work. People simply have an innate ability to copy the behaviour of others. Even if that means subscribing to somebody else’s version of reality.

 

Communication is everywhere. It is in road signs, in the shape of logos, in the colours, in your website’s “contact” buttons. Acquiring expert knowledge on communication can change the way you interact with other people and make a huge difference to your life. If you develop your own language toolbox and use it properly, you can easily shape the surrounding reality to your own advantage. Language Extreme will help you do that in style.