“One good analogy is worth three hours of discussion.”
-Dudley Field Malone
There are two types of people who speak. There are those who speak because they have a need to speak and there are others who speak in an effort to get their message to be heard. The former are called speakers, the latter are referred to as communicators.
Communicators will attempt to gauge how their message might be perceived and will take steps to ensure that it will not be taken the wrong way.
One way that this can be accomplished is by carefully choosing which examples and analogies one utilizes when delivering their message.
For example, I might have a wonderful example about how President Trump or President Biden have had their words twisted by the media. However, there are people who would use that to segue into a political argument, totally obliterating any hope of delivering the intended message.
Even in situations where the listener doesn’t shift the discussion into a political debate, the mere mention of a political figure with whom the listener disagrees with is enough to get the listener to figuratively mute the one doing the talking. Meaning words are being said, but nothing is being heard.
That’s why I find sports so helpful in my writing and speaking.
Sports can provide examples that most people can both relate to and are willing to hear in its entirety.
While there are many political examples that I can use to illustrate the need to be clear with words and how people can manipulate via cryptic messages, I will use a recent sports story to illustrate this point.
This point wouldn’t be as effective if I used Jared Kushner or Linda Sarsour as the example.
It was reported yesterday that a 24 year old ice hockey goalie lost his life.
The headline says: “Columbus Blue Jackets goalie dies after fireworks accident”
To many this implies that the goalie died due his own improper use of fireworks. It also implies that the fireworks directly lead to his death.
However, per the reports the night after the incident, this person died because he fell and hit his head. Granted he was running due to an issue with fireworks, but was that what you thought when you read the words “died after fireworks accident”?
There are three main lessons we should take from this.
- While being succinct is extremely important, it should not come at the expense of the clarity of our message. We need to make sure that the message that we are trying to convey is the message that is being heard.
- We should have our radar up when people are giving information to us. Are they trying to deceive us by omitting facts and highlighting non-relevant points? Are they attempting to imply a connection between correlation and causation when none exists?
Don’t be afraid to ask a valid question when you believe someone is doing verbal gymnastics in an attempt to mislead.
I was once speaking to a bochur (single boy) with a suggestion about a girl he should date. When I told him that the girl's parents are married, he immediately asked “to each other or to other people?”
Kudos for him to ask a basic question. The description “her parents are married” is the type of phrase that can be an intentionally misleading statement.
There is too much manipulation and verbal gymnastics out there.
Make sure that the message you are giving over is clear, without the need to decode and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification when you’re given a message that requires deciphering.
- While controversial topics make for great conversation, steer clear of them when trying to use them as a segue into your point. Often the listeners won’t segue with you.
Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.
To speak with Yisroel about presenting at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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