Lindsay Taylor shows us how to use the magic of words to create positive consequences
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heartNelson Mandela
Words have a power, a magic to them that can transport you to a different place; that can evoke feelings, sounds, movements and images.
One word, no matter how many letters it contains, how many syllables or beats there are to it, can hold vast meaning.
One word, spoken or heard, can create a wave of implications and consequences.
Consequences good or bad.
Implications positive or negative.
An integral element of my training and coaching sessions is the use of “precision language” – the art of being “precise” with the very best language and words to use in a given situation. And that’s what I want to share with you in this article. I would love you all to be able to use the magic of words to create good, positive consequences and implications so, with a wave of my metaphoric magic wand, here are my tips on doing just that:-
1. Remember: Words mean different things to different people
We are all unique. Whilst this makes the world an interesting place to be, it also makes the world a challenging place to be! Not everything thinks the same as we do – everyone sees hears and feels the world differently.
Everyone will attach their own unique meaning to a certain word. Other words will “hang off it” based on beliefs, previous experience, knowledge and learning. Remember this and you’ll go a long way to being able to use the magic in words.
Repeat back particular favourite words of those you are working with – this is instrumental in creating deep rapport. By “sounding back” your colleague’s words you are letting them know you’ve really listened to them and value their definition and use of words.
2. Use sensory rich words and VAK to engage the person you are communicating with
Words can be a magic way to engage with someone and get on their wavelength quickly.
As sensory rich beings we see, hear, feel, smell and taste our way through life. Whilst we access all five senses to “make sense” of our worlds, most of us have a dominant or primary sense and the words we use will be determined by that sense.
Being able to identify your own and others dominant sense can be a useful thing to do to ensure you communicate as effectively as possible and use the magic of words to engage and create deep rapport.
How often have you met someone for the first time and felt that you got along really well and immediately seemed to be on the “same wavelength”?
How often have you met someone for the first time and found it really difficult to keep the conversation going? The reason for this could be because you are either talking the same or a different “VAK Language”.
Take a few minutes to think back to the last meeting you were involved in and re-live the most memorable bits – collect the memories in your mind.
Then, think about how you remembered:
Did you create a visual picture of the events? Was it a “snapshot”, a still image? Was it a “mini movie”? Was it in colour?
Or did you notice the sounds within the experience – people’s voices, music or the natural sounds of the surroundings?
Or maybe the memory was about feelings inside – happiness (the meeting went really well!) or tension (the Sales Director and Managing Director could not agree on anything!).
The VAK System
Whichever one of these ways of reconstructing your memory was the first and / or most recognisable indicates your likely dominant sense –you experience your world either in
- pictures (the Visuals – or The V)
- sounds (the Auditory – or The A) or
- feelings (the Kinaesthetics – or The K).
This is called your “VAK System”. You might have identified that you’re a combination of two or maybe a “cocktail” of all three.
If you have a dominant Visual sense then your magic words and phrases are likely to be similar to these:
- “I see what you mean.”
- “I get the picture”
- “Things are looking great.”
Because you can see in your “mind’s eye” what you’re talking about you’re likely to use your arms and body to draw out in front of you the very thing you’re describing! You will notice how things look around you – their shape, form and colour – the aesthetics.
If you have a dominant Auditory sense then you’re likely to talk in words that are sound or music related, as examples:
- “We discussed the situation”
- “I’d like to listen to your ideas”
- “I do like the sound of that”
You might be great at tuning into new ideas.
If you have a dominant Kinaesthetic sense then you’re likely to use words that are feelings, movement or touch related:
- “I’m under pressure”
- “I like the feeling of that”
- “Things are really moving now”
You probably have a pretty clear idea of where you experience your feelings too. If you’re stressed you may touch your head, if you’re hungry you may touch your stomach and for you to really optimise any learning, you probably want to be there, doing it as a first-hand experience.
If a primarily visual person is using all their visual magic words, an auditory person is likely to “switch off”. However two “visual” people are much more likely to create quicker and deeper rapport and be “comfortable” with each other because they are, in effect, talking the same language and using the same magic words.
So, next time you are listening to colleagues or friends in conversation, notice what words they tend to use and favour. Read through your emails in your inbox and notice any patterns in words that they use regularly. What dominant sense do you think they are using? If you’ve discovered you have a dominant Visual sense and your manager is Auditory – in order to communicate effectively with him / her you can adjust the words you use and include more auditory words.
3. Use motivational words to achieve goals and objectives
Goals and objectives are there to be “achieved” so it makes sense that the use of words that promote forward movement and momentum are your magic ones. You are heading towards achieving your goals and putting in to practice “towards” thinking using “towards” words as opposed to “away from” thinking and “away from” words.
Here’s a simple table illustrating the difference.
“Away From” Words
|This is hard|
This is difficult
This is a struggle
|This is a challenge (and I’m up for a challenge!)|
|Lose, Eliminate, Get rid of||Gain, Get, Achieve, Attain|
|Is often considered demotivational/draining and negative||Is often considered motivational/energetic and positive|
|Winnie the Pooh analogy? Eyeore of course!||Winnie the Pooh analogy? Tigger of course!|
|Movement away from something||Movement towards something|
|Great for risk analysis||Great for achieving goals and objectives|
Identify what your natural tendency is. If you’re more of an “away from thinker”, make a conscious change in your language when you want to add some magic to help you and others achieve goals and promote motivation and to add that forward movement.
4. Change your label
This is particularly relevant to feelings. We often label our feelings and attribute “negative” emotions to the label and the word we have used.
Take the word “nervous” for example. You feel nervous. What does that mean to you? There is a churning in your stomach maybe? Butterflies? A tense feeling in your head perhaps?
Change that “nervous” label and word to something more useful – “excitement” for example. What happens? You are likely to attribute the more positive connotations of the word “excitement” to your feeling – and, I would suggest, as a result you’ve added a bit of magic.
Use the word “annoying” to describe a situation or scenario and you’ve added all the “negative” connotations by setting it up as exactly that. Try using that magic word “challenging” again – because we’re all up for a challenge.
Think “glass half full” not “glass half empty” and you’re getting there in terms of magic words that will ensure positive consequences and implications.