Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 06/29/2020
I’m frequently asked in interviews, “What’s the one thing that’s made you successful?” Well there isn’t “one thing,” but I do tend to focus on the highly pervasive, hugely influential mastery of language that I believe is essential to everyone’s success. I believe that language controls discussion, discussion controls relationships, and relationships control success in life and business.
I’m astounded by members of the clergy, politicians, business leaders, sports figures, entertainers, and others who, despite excellent ideas and content, can’t convey them well. Ronald Reagan was known as the “great communicator” and while some scoffed at him being merely “an actor,” he served two successful terms as president. Today, candidates would be well served by engaging in some mimesis of his style.
I was at a client meeting of hundreds of employees where a senior executive explained a fabulous annual result and full bonuses in such a desultory manner that someone near me asked, “Are we being fired?” Conversely, a woman disappointed in a project’s progress told me once, “Your language is so enthusiastic that I’ve become enthusiastic and I see things far differently now!”
I have news for you. We do judge books by their covers, and we do need sizzle with the steak. Language is the free tool we all possess, the leverage worthy of Archimedes to move mountains. Never “dumb down” your language, your attire, or your attitude. If you want to climb the mountain, elevate them. They are the handholds of your journey.
The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.—Ludwig Wittgenstein
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