Want to be heard? Speak another language.

by Trudy on June 7, 2013

At some point each of is in a position that requires us to be persuasive, to find a way that respectfully requests another to expand their perspective on a particular topic.

But in this moment, when something seems plain as day to you, the person you are sharing it with is completely not getting it, tuning it out or actively resisting it.

What is going on? How can we be more effective communicators?

Typically, what is happening when your repeated messaging is not making a dent is that the communicator is speaking in one worldview language, and the receiver is operating within another worldview language.

What does this mean?

We all have a worldview or frame of reference, which is essentially our own collective belief system. A system that helps us sort through and make sense of all the information in our world. In addition, our brains take in new information by connecting it to existing information, this is how we determine where to fit info or whether to pay attention at all.

For instance, some of us believe the world should be fair and balanced, and others of us believe as strongly that imbalance is natural. So, if we are the communicator and we believe in fairness and balance, we organically talk the language of fairness, equality, equity, balance, etc. But, with that language, odds are very high that the receiver with the imbalance-is-natural worldview, will dismiss your message as incongruent and nonsensical to them. Your efforts will have been ineffective.

So what to do?

As the communicator, the person who is attempting to expand perspectives, you have some important work to do. You first must understand then align with and validate the receiver’s worldview, and existing beliefs, so that you may use that as a building block to grow their thinking. The real truth is that it takes only one word, one visual clue, one split second disconnect, to shut down an entire message. If we want to be effective communicators we have to use our language purposefully.

This can be very hard, because our worldviews are hard wired to our language, making our word choices as natural as breathing. We may not even notice that we use a different language from others.

The good news is that it is possible to affect “conflicting” points of view through effective use of language, and by their validating beliefs, values, and knowledge. Consider these the starting point to growing a perspective and you will get so much further than challenging their perspectives as “wrong”.

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