Avoiding the Wrong Impression with Your Words

Every being on the planet communicates in some fashion. And the more complex the form of communication is, the more complex the relationships are. You could argue that the more complex the relationship is then the more complex communication is. However, it is the depth of our speech that enables the relationship to exist to begin with. How many strangers have become your friends by just sitting next to them and either never uttering a word?

Human speech is the most complicated form of communication in the world. We have so many ways to express ideas, feelings, dreams, suggestions, thoughts, intents, love, rage, desire, and so forth. Consider this list of synonyms for the word ‘little’:

Little, Tiny, Small, Minuscule, Microscopic, Minute, Short, Infinitesimal, Diminutive, Miniature, Slight, Petite, Squat, Undersized, Itty-bitty, Smidgen, Insy-winsy.

All of these words are indefinable. Try to define ‘big’. Uh, not little? Then what is ‘little’? Not big? You see, these words convey subtle differences to us, and yet they are all relative words conveying the same idea. Yet our use of them is paramount. If I say that the man here is little, then you are led to believe that he is shorter than you. But if I say that the man here is microscopic, you are left with a bemused impression that the man is so tiny that he can only be viewed through a microscope. Different words convey different impressions. Yet take the tallest man in the world and compare him to the universe, and you could say he is microscopic in comparison.

Thus in expressing yourself, you need to learn to clearly define a common base of relation. In other words, both parties need to agree-consciously or subconsciously-on what is considered little. If one thinks that the solar system is little (compared to the galaxy it is), but the other thinks that an ant is little (compared to you and I it is, but the solar system is gigantic compared to the ant), your relative understanding is skewed and the words you use to communicate will be misconstrued and misinterpreted. You can send the wrong impression with a single word. In this example, your use of the word little is not seen in the way that you intend it by the other party-even though both of you understand the meaning-you don’t have the same base of relation to compare it to. This makes for lousy communication.

To express yourself appropriately, you need to learn to establish this common relation. This is how all relationships are formed. If you want to avoid the wrong impression, it is vital that you establish this first.

There are some cultures where complimenting a woman’s breasts is considered very appropriate and gentlemanly. But in America that could be taken for sexual harassment. Without this common base of relation, you will send the wrong impression.

Words have meaning to us. Subtle differences in each word will convey a slightly different idea and impression. Huge and gigantic have subtle differences. We think of gigantic as bigger than huge. Thus, the words you use in your relationships are of powerful importance. Without a common base of relation-particularly when we use relative words-will always leave the wrong impression.

For more resources on developing your communication and social skills visit: www.fitlyspoken.org