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Paint vivid word pictures

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

If you’ve hired an executive coach to sharpen your communication skills, it’s a safe bet you’ve been told, “Show, don’t tell.” That means rather than talk in theoretical terms, use simple words that enable listeners to visualize your point.

By taking visual snapshots and describing them in plain English, you allow others to draw their own conclusions. Your message will resonate more deeply when you grant them the freedom to see what you say and respond at a gut level.

That sounds obvious. But smart managers sometimes get into trouble by showing off their dazzling vocabulary or demonstrating their mastery of industry buzzwords or technical references—at the expense of clear expression.

You might think, “Sure, that’s sensible advice for most people. But we operate in an intellectually charged atmosphere and our culture is different.”

Even if you work with professionals with advanced degrees, your words will deliver more impact if you skip the intellectualizing. You benefit by standing out as a clear communicator.

Consider that Gerry Spence, a prominent American trial lawyer, writes, “When people explain things to me in the abstract, I grow impatient.”

In his book, How to Argue and Win Every Time, he describes how he woos juries. Instead of using dry medical language to characterize a client’s broken leg, he’ll show a photo or video of the client struggling in a wheelchair.

“Don’t say he suffered pain,” Spence writes. “Tell me what it felt like to have a broken leg with the bone sticking out through his flesh.”

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