Monday, 16 April 2012

Show Wisdom by Speaking Simply

One of the most valuable skills around is being able to communicate complicated ideas in a very simple way. If you can master that skill, you will find that people will respond exceptionally well to you. Why? Because, when you speak, you will make them feel smart, and everyone wants to feel smart.

Think about the quotes that you like to read, jot down or even get put on the walls of your home. I bet the majority of them are one or two sentences long yet communicate a profound idea. Here are a few examples:

"Action expresses priorities" Mahatma Gandhi

"I am always doing things I can't do. That is how I get to do them." Pablo Picasso

"Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it." Bill Cosby

Look at those quotes! Each fits on one line, yet can cause your mind to think for hours and reach new heights! That is the art of simple speaking!

In spite of the power of this concept, I find that many people speak in very complicated ways when it is unnecessary.  There are three possible reasons for that:

1. The speaker does not see the importance of speaking simply.
2. The speaker does not know the subject well enough to say it simply.
3. The speaker wants to feel superior and hopes they can do that by confusing the listener.

Take a doctor for example. She may say, "You have an esophageal food bolus obstruction. I will need to give you a glucagon injection in order to treat it." That sentence would scare me! I don't understand it, I feel stupid and I still don't know what is wrong with me. On the other hand, she could say, "You have a clump of food lodged in your esophagus, that is the tube that takes food into your belly. I can give you a shot that will relax that tube and allow the food to pass through to your stomach." Now I get it! My fear is gone and I don't feel stupid!

Whatever it is you do, you probably know the lingo and logic behind it much better than the average person. That is why you get paid to do it. When you are talking to a customer, they don't have the knowledge you do on that particular subject. If you want to help them and have them feel comfortable with you, you must speak in a way that they understand. Cut out the jargon and long winded descriptions. You may feel smarter if you rattle off some confusing sentence. But your customer will feel smarter and see you as wiser if you can communicate it simply.

After all, that is why we think Leonardo Da Vinci was so wise when he said, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."