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The art of effective communication: Beyond words and vocabulary


“You see the whole country of the system is juxtapositioned by the hemoglobin in the atmosphere, because you are a sophisticated rhetorician intoxicated by the exuberance of your own verbosity!” If you've watched old Hindi films, you'd recall those as the famous lines of an Amitabh Bachchan song. If you don't, you may have categorized it as gibberish and wondered what the point of that sentence is. Stay with me. Those lines contain a series of words and phrases that sound complex and sophisticated, but they don't form a coherent or meaningful statement. It’s from a song though and the lines were intended to be humorous. It serves the purpose. You may have noticed people using big words with the aim of impressing others. Now, I have nothing against using sophisticated words. My point is - use it if your audience understands it. If they don't - it serves no purpose at all. It's a classic example of what George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”. On a related note: I started my career in Learning and Development as a Communication Trainer. My job was to train people to speak English correctly. One of the 'occupational hazards' (pun intended) of this job was that when anyone spoke in English - a scorecard of sorts went off in my head. I used to start assessing them on their diction, pronunciation, grammar etc. If their way of speaking was not up to a certain standard - I lost interest and switched off. Who lost out as a result of this? No one other than myself. I'm glad I realized soon enough that it was a rather foolish thing to do - to stop listening to someone simply because their English wasn't up to the mark. Today, I think of English as just another language. Sure it is THE language that most of us use to converse at work, and it also helps people around the world - from different countries and cultures communicate with each other. However, English proficiency is not an indicator of anyone's intelligence, ideas, potential or capability. Here’s what I do now: When listening to others, pay heed to the essence of what's spoken; not language finesse. When communicating with others, speak / write to express; not with the sole purpose of impressing. What's your take on this?

Fun fact: The phrase "sophisticated rhetorician intoxicated by the exuberance of your own verbosity" is a famous quote from British politician Benjamin Disraeli, directed at his political rival, William Ewart Gladstone. Disraeli was accusing Gladstone of being a skilled speaker who was overly fond of his own words. Link to the song's video: https://youtu.be/wlxfIIgKZho

It's a fun song. As a kid, I found it quite amusing to watch Amitabh Bachchan's entry in the song, where he was seated in an Easter egg :)




Image: Rebrand Cities from Pexels

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