In human speech, one of the most powerful, yet over looked tools is accentuation for appropriateness of the occasion or situation. This skill capitalizes on the present cognitive state of the listener. Writing to accentuate takes real expertise, especially when using social media or texting. An example of this is the phrase “I didn’t say you are crazy”. The meaning is completely left up to the interpretation of the reader when not accentuated properly. Even with the use of punctuation and capitalization there is still room for misinterpretation. When spoken, there are opportunities for variances that better define the intent and meaning of the phrase, that are not readily available within the confines of written text. Through simple voice modulation, word elongation and pause timing the perception of the meaning of the phrase changes dramatically.
• I (pause) didn’t say you are crazy. [Implies: someone said you are crazy. But it wasn’t me.]
• I didn’t (pause) say you are crazy. [Implies: I said something, but it was not that you are crazy.]
• I didn’t (elongated “say”) you are crazy. [Implies: I may have text that you are crazy, but I never spoke it.]
• I didn’t say (modulated up “you”) are crazy. [Implies: I said someone was crazy, but I didn’t say it was you.]
• I didn’t say you (elongated “are”) crazy. [Implies: I said you are acting crazy.]
• I didn’t say you are (pause) crazy. [Implies: I said you may have some mental or emotional disorder, but not specifically crazy.]
These modifications made within speech change the basic perceived meaning of a phrase or sentence. In communication, even slight variations in the delivery of the message can change the perceived meaning of the message. True communication ensures that the information being shared is understood as it was intended.
Understanding and interpretation becomes even more integral when we add: body language, facial expression, assumed point of reference, personal bias, and continuity of emotional expression.
We would think it is a joke, if a college student were to say to the professor “aint nun yall gonna learn us nutin?” Well …in most places.
It would most definitely seem very inappropriate for a minister to giggle and chuckle throughout the eulogy of a fallen soldier. That kind of behavior is extremely incongruent with the emotional state of the event.
Our communication or words are containers. Knowledge and information are only the base ingredients for our communication mixture. Remember, Professor Mehrabian’s study concludes that 93 percent of our communication is not in a simple word format; therefore, we need to understand how perception in communication is affected by each of our senses.
James Wedmore stated, in an ad for Entrepreneurs Content Marketing Strategy, that “Words don’t teach, only experiences can.” This is one the most powerful truths ever spoken. One might ask “how can I experience things that I have not or may never come into contact with? The answer is to find the experiences from others through statements that are descriptive, thought provoking, emotionally charged and that can be tied into something that you have previously experienced. The mind cannot differentiate a memory from a recent deeply perceived sensory rich image.
We can make our word containers so sensory rich with: sight, sound, taste and touch that they will become filled with intense purpose and dynamic ability, so that we can relay experiences to others. Those words will become like fire for us and for those to whom we speak.