I’m very big on communication. I believe that we should share our thoughts, ideas, opinions, knowledge, feelings, criticisms and concerns with those around us. It’s a fast and good way to learn….and I want all the help I can get.
My preferred way of communicating is verbally. It’s always come easily to me. I enjoyed my radio broadcasting career in the sixties. I enjoyed making business presentations one-on-one and to small and large groups in the seventies and eighties. I enjoyed my political activism and publically promoting various California ballot propositions in the nineties. Maybe it’s a center of attention thing. If so, that’s okay. Somebody has to say something to get things started.
For me, the important word here is “say.” It’s not type, write, print or view. I want to hear my words and I want to hear your words….and your laughs, your inflections, your interruptions, your voice raised in emphasis or argument. Hearing the color and tone of your voice is so much more personal than seeing cold type on a piece of paper or on a glass monitor.
That’s why I have refused to use a computer for email all these years.
I also believe that we (me included) go on too long and too often about inconsequential things. I want to distill my outbound and my inbound communication to its most interesting, most informative, and most salient points. That’s why I don’t carry a cell phone and why I don’t “text.” You don’t really want to know what I had for breakfast….and I don’t need to know that you bought some new shoes yesterday.
Never try to impress people with the profundity of your thought or by the obscurity of your language. Whatever has been thoroughly thought through can be stated simply.
This is the language you will not be hearing tonight. You will not hear me say bottom line, game plan, role model, scenario or hopefully. I will not kickback, mellow out or be on-a-roll. I will not go for it, check it out or boogey. I promise not to refer to anyone as a class act, a beautiful person or a happy camper. I will also not be saying “What a guy”….or mention the word lifestyle.
I will not say concept when I mean idea or impacted when I mean affected. There will be no hands-on, state-of-the-art networking. We will not maximize, prioritize or finalize….and we definitely will not interface.
There will also be no support group jargon from the human potential movement. For instance, I will not share anything with you. I will not relate to you and you will not identify with me. I will not give you input and I will expect no feedback. This will not be a learning experience, nor will it be a growth period.
There will be no sharing, no bonding, no nurturing. We will not establish a relationship. We will have no meaningful time together. And we definitely won’t spend any quality time.
We will not be supportive of one another so that we can get in touch with our feelings in order to feel good about ourselves. And if you are one of those people who needs a little space, take it the f_ _ _ outside.
Franklin Roosevelt was upset with a World War II Civil Defense blackout poster reading, “Illumination must be extinguished when premises are vacated.” FDR exclaimed, “Damn, why can’t you just say, ‘Put the lights out when you leave’?”
When asked to list his ten favorite words, Winston Churchill said:
“Never, use, a, long, word, when, (a), short, one, will, do.”
Effective communicators design their messages to grab listeners’ attention, maintain their interest, allow for feedback, and enable them to visualize and retain information.
You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across,
your ideas won’t get you anywhere.
Tell me a fact and I’ll learn it.
Tell me a truth and I’ll believe it.
But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.
No matter what your attempts to inform
….it is your ability to inspire that will turn the tide.
Words are the dress of thoughts….which should no more be presented in rags, tatters and dirt than your person should.
Doing business without advertising
is like a man winking at a woman in the dark.
He knows what he’s doing, but she doesn’t.
The cleverly expressed opposite of any generally accepted idea
is usually worth a fortune to somebody.
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
George Bernard Shaw
Some examples of why the human race has probably evolved as far as possible. These are actual instruction and warning labels on actual consumer goods:
On a hair dryer: Do not use while sleeping.
On a bag of Fritos: You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside.
On a bar of Dial soap: Directions: Use like regular soap.
On a hotel-provided shower cap: Fits one head.
On the bottom of the box of tiramisu dessert: Do not turn upside down.
On Marks & Spencer Bread Pudding: Product will be hot after heating.
On packaging for a Rowenta Iron: Do not iron clothes on body.
On Boots’ Children’s Cough Medicine: Do not drive car or operate machinery.
On Nytol Sleep Aid: Warning: May cause drowsiness.
On a kitchen knife: Warning: Keep out of children.
On a string of Christmas lights: For indoor or outdoor use only.
On Sainsbury’s Peanuts: Warning: Contains nuts.
On American Airlines packet of nuts: Instructions: Open packet, eat nuts.
On a chainsaw: Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands.
Of course, everything has been said that needs to be said
….but since so few were listening, it has to be said again.
What Did You Say?!
Chevrolet just couldn’t get people to buy its Nova in South America.
It turns out in Spanish “No va” means “It doesn’t go.”
Milk producers asked everyone if they’ve “Got Milk?”
Hispanic women were offended because in Spanish “Got Milk?” translates to “Are you lactating?”
Pepsi said “Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation.”
Chinese people were amazed because in their language it means, “Pepsi brings your ancestors
back from the grave.”
Coca-Cola at first confused the people in China because “Coca-Cola” was read as “kekuo kela”….which many Chinese thought meant “Bite the wax tadpole.”
American Airlines advertised its first-class leather seats with the slogan “Fly in Leather.”
The literal Spanish translation (“Vuela en Cuero”) urged its Spanish-speaking customers to
If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time….with a tremendous whack.
I’m not capable of blathering pap. I’m not happy or comfortable engaging in mush statements. If I’m going to say something, it’s going to be substantive and at least provocative. Hopefully, it will also have some humor. That’s my style. It’s me.
We now use language that takes the life out of life.
Sometime in the last few decades:
-toilet paper became bathroom tissue
-sneakers became running shoes
-false teeth became dental appliances
-medicine became medication
-information became directory assistance
-the dump became the landfill
-car crashes became automobile accidents
-partly cloudy became partly sunny
-motels became motor lodges
-house trailers became mobile homes
-used cars became previously-owned automobiles
-room service became guest room dining
-constipation became occasional irregularity.
If you got sick, you use to go to the hospital to see the doctor. Now you go to a health maintenance organization or a wellness center to see a healthcare delivery professional.
Poor people use to live in slums. Now the economically-disadvantaged occupy sub-standard housing in the inner cities….and where they use to be broke, they now have a negative cash flow position. That’s not because they were fired, but because management wanted to curtail redundancies in the human resources area so many people are no longer viable members of the workforce.
Smug greedy, well-fed people in power have invented a language to conceal their sins:
-The CIA doesn’t kill anybody anymore….they neutralize people.
-The Army goes in to depopulate the area.
-The government doesn’t lie….they just engage in disinformation.
-The Pentagon actually measures nuclear radiation in sunshine units.
-Israeli (or British or Indian) murderers are called commandos
….while Arab (or Irish or Pakistani) commandos are called terrorists.
Some of this stuff is just silly.
Like on airlines, when they say that they want to pre-board children.
What the hell is pre-board? Is that to get on before you get on!
Some of this stuff sounds like certain physical conditions are shameful….which they are not….and we’re trying to change the condition by changing the name of the condition. Life just doesn’t work that way.
-Physically-challenged people are still crippled.
-Hearing-impaired people are still deaf.
-Partially-sighted people are still blind.
-Minimally-exceptional people are still stupid.
-Senior citizens are still old people.
-And people who pass away are still dead.
Psychologists have actually started to call ugly people those with severe appearance deficit. It’s getting so bad that any day now we’ll start calling rape victims unwilling sperm recipients.
Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions.
Great speakers listen to their audience with their eyes.
When people talk to you, look them in the eyes and focus on what they’re saying. Really listen. Do your best to understand what they are trying to say. When you listen you show respect. And to get respect, you have to give respect. It doesn’t mean you have to accept all of what they are saying or even part of it. But try to understand where their ideas come from.
When you’re talking to people, think about how you like things said to you. Ask them questions. People want you to ask them questions and get to know more about them. Not the other way around.
Think all you speak, but speak not all you think.
No one has a finer command of language
than the person who keeps their mouth shut.
The tongue is prone to lose the way.
Not so the pen.
For in a letter, we might not have better things to say, but surely we say them better.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Often the difference between a successful relationship and a mediocre one consists of leaving a few things unsaid.
You don’t have to answer every remark made to you. This is an astonishing discovery, but it works. You do not have to reply to unpleasant or unmannerly statements. A smile will do. This discovery has saved many relationships and friendships. No law says you have to speak just because it’s your turn. You can break the chain of the conversation.
Don’t just raise your voice
….when you should reinforce your argument.
We often refuse to accept an idea merely because the tone of voice in which it has been expressed is unsympathetic to us.
Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech
you will ever regret.
The vacuum created by a failure to communicate will
quickly be filled with rumor, misrepresentation, drivel and poison.
Speech is civilization itself.
The word….even the most contradictory word …..preserves contact.
It is silence which isolates.
A lie can travel halfway around the world
….while the truth is putting on its shoes.
It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies….but even more to stand up to your friends.
I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath....my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not....my wrath did grow.
If you want to make peace;
Don’t just talk to your friends,
talk to your enemies.
The first human being who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization.
It is easy to fly into a passion….anybody can do that. But to be angry with the right person and to the right extent and at the right time and with the right object and in the right way….that is not easy and it is not everyone who can do it.
To get to the core of a problem you are having with another person, you can’t just think like you think….you have to think like they think. It doesn’t matter if everything you say is right and everything they say is wrong. The fact is, they still feel that way, so it counts.
Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.
A diplomat is a person who can tell you to go to Hell
in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip.
The true spirit of conversation consists of building on another person's observation, not tearing it down.
The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.
Let’s face it. English is a crazy language. There’s no egg in eggplant….no ham in hamburger….neither pine nor apple in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.
We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes we find that….quicksand can work slowly….boxing rings are square….and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write, but fingers don’t fing….grocers don’t groce….and hammers don’t ham?
If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth beeth?
One goose, two geese….so why not one moose, two meese?
Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends, but not one amend?....that you can comb through the annals of history, but not through a single annal? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and you get rid of all but one of them, what do you call the one that’s left?
Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people ….recite at a play and play at a recital?....ship by truck and send cargo by ship?....have noses that run and feet that smell?....park on driveways and drive on parkways?
How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same….while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? How can overlook and oversee be opposites….while quite a lot and quite a few are alike? How can the weather be hot as hell one day and cold as hell another?
Have you noticed that we talk about certain things only when they are absent? Have you ever seen a horseful carriage?....or a strapfull gown?....met a sung hero?....or experienced requited love? Have you ever run into someone who was ruly?....gruntled?....combobulated?....or picable? And where are all those people who are spring chickens?....or who would actually hurt a fly?
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language….in which your house can burn up as it burns down….in which you fill in a form by filling it out….and in which an alarm clock goes off by going on.
English was invented by people and it reflects the creativity of the human race….which of course, isn’t a race at all. That is why when the stars are out they’re visible, but when the lights are out they’re invisible….and why when I wind up my watch, I start it….but when I wind up this essay, I end it.