Linguistics – A Soft Skill for Effective Communication

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Take a moment, and do not think of a ‘white elephant.’ There is no way out, we all are bound to think of a ‘white elephant.’ It is because our brain accepts only positive commands. The words ‘do not’ are ignored by our brain unconsciously. It is therefore important to understand here that our brain does not necessarily accept the language, the way we want it to. This makes it compelling to investigate skills for communicating the right way with our brains. This skill of communication is called linguistics. Linguistics is all about talking a language that our brain accepts easily. Thus Neuro-Linguistic Programming skills are incomplete without the use of linguistic skills.

Linguistics in Neuro-Linguistic Programming has its own unique place. The study of linguistics helps not only in making our communication effective but also in building relationships and achieving instant rapport. Linguistics gives us subtle commands that the brain executes easily. Hypnotists also use linguistics very effectively in hypnotherapy. Knowledge of linguistics enables professionals in getting their work done effectively by avoiding any friction whatsoever owing to communication limitations. For negotiators, it is a skill that controls the communication and thus the outcome.

The first most important aspect of linguistics is talking the same language as our client. As you would have read in my earlier articles, our experience is stored in the form of the five senses, i.e., visual, auditory, kinesthetic, gustatory, and olfactory. We predominantly use one of the five senses, which is our programmed pattern. We thus need to establish communication on the basis of the ‘sense’ used by the individuals. For instance, speak a language full of feelings with a kinesthetic person and add a lot of visual phrases for a visual person. All patterns of communication can be adapted to individual senses.

Once we have selected the preferred pattern of communication, we can add linguistics skills to make our language more effective. For instance, we often use the word ‘but’ without understanding its implications. Meetings and arguments become unending because of this word. A common phrase used is “I appreciate your point but…’ This use of ‘but’ means that the statement made by the other person was not appreciated at all. The most effective way would be to replace ‘but’ with an ‘and.’ To understand this better let us experiment with the following two sentences:
I appreciate your viewpoint ‘but’ you need to understand our point of view also.
I appreciate your viewpoint ‘and’ you need to understand our point of view also.

This use of ‘and’ expresses an acceptance of the viewpoint while ‘but’ gives an underlying meaning of rejection of viewpoint. However, this does not mean the use of ‘but’ should be avoided altogether. ‘But’ has some compelling applications in communication skills. Let us examine the effective use of ‘but’ from the following sentence:
My manager is very bossy ‘but’ he is also caring.
My boss is caring ‘but’ he is also very bossy.
The effect is anything that precedes ‘but’ naturally loses importance and the part after the ‘but’ is a very effective message. Like, we could express the boss as ‘caring’ as in the first case or a ‘brute’ as in the second case. Thus using ‘but’ appropriately becomes a subtle command for judgment though you communicated the positive and negative together with varying impacts.

Then we have the use of the word ‘if.’ Consider the sentence ‘if I have the money I will buy it.’ The word ‘if’ in this phrase has a sense of failure associated with it. It conveys an unconscious message that the probability of buying the item is negligible. The moment we replace it with ‘when’ it communicates the same message with an affirmation. ‘When I have the money, I will buy it.’ There seems to be a sense of unconscious certainty associated with it. Let us look at another example: ‘When you buy this shirt we will gift wrap it.’ Here there is a presupposition that you will buy a shirt. Also, the brain starts thinking of gift wrapping although the purchase has not yet been effected. Use of ‘when’ is a good way to push your work through. ‘If’ is a great word to use when we want to put a precondition to any outcome, and that too to our advantage.

The use of metaphors in communication has a very powerful impact. Metaphors can be stories, visuals that describe an experience, words, poems, or quotes. Metaphors communicate a message, which is interpreted differently by different people. A metaphor is best used when we want to end an argument or when we want to add punch to our communication. The best part of the use of the metaphor is that it never needs any justification. This is because the interpretation is left to the people while the metaphor is just a story or an event from someone else’s life. Metaphors can set the right mood for a discussion when used early in a meeting.

Linguistics is a potent skill. It adds tremendous convincing ability and strength to our communication. The essence of our communication is very important because it reflects the power of our personality. Advanced linguistic skills have embedded commands which, the brain accepts easily and hence proves effective in every situation. Communication decides whether we are in control of a situation or otherwise. We are all aware that language is the currency of business. We are all businessmen to an extent because to be successful in life we are the ‘product,’ which only we can promote. Thus, skilled communication plays a vital role in our lives.

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