Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your words were totally misinterpreted? Have you thought you were saying one thing only to find the other person heard something entirely different?”
I for one know my words have failed me on multiple occasions. I spent most of my school years trying to sound more sophisticated by padding out what I actually wanted to say with unnecessary adjectives, turning ‘so’ into ‘consequently’ and ‘because’ into ‘inasmuch’. If I’m honest, even as I’m writing this I’ve had to stop myself from looking for synonyms.
This over-complication of communication is something we see a lot, and at JPC are on a mission to help our clients simplify, so I was intrigued to read ‘Words that Work’ by Dr Frank Luntz and learn his take on the topic. It’s helped me see that these extra words we think make us sound “smarter” are actually making what we’re trying to say harder for our audience to understand. Overly long sentences might look and sound more impressive but, all too often, can leave people feeling disconnected, and clueless about what your message actually is.
In a world where social media speak is dominant, the more concise your sentences, the better. This clear and simple language is more effective because short words are more memorable and so make a bigger impact on your audience. But the relevance and context of your words still needs consideration. As Dr Luntz explains,“this is easy to do by arranging your message in the right order”. In a language where a word can denote two different meanings and provoke entirely different reactions depending on who you’re speaking to, knowing your audience and giving them this context is essential to help them hear only what you want to say.
To put it simply, effective language is all about understanding your situation, not over-complicating things and choosing the words that will have the greatest impact for your audience.