In anticipation of President Obama’s fourth State of the Union address next week, it might be a fitting time to look at some of the greatest wordsmiths around: politicians. Politicians understand the immense power that words possess -- whether their words encourage self-expression, appeal to different perspectives or positively frame concepts.
Not only do your words as a young entrepreneur represent the core of you and your business, they have the ability to induce action, create alliances and stir the imagination. Whether you’re crafting a speech, pitching investors, writing sales copy or sending an email, choosing your words carefully is essential for success.
Here are some communication techniques inspired by the world of politics:
Be diplomatic. Unfortunately, tact and etiquette can easily be drowned out in the competitive world of business. While it’s of course important to be motivated and even aggressive, maintaining your composure and conducting yourself with a professional, agreeable attitude will take you far. If you’re caught up in a dispute with a client, employee or even a business rival, remember to keep your cool and don’t be afraid to play a little politics.
Choose words that generate positive feelings, and clothe any inward hostility with a veneer of civility and respect. Remember, you’re not just expressing yourself anymore. You’re expressing the image of your company.
Use your words carefully. As emotional creatures, we react strongly to certain words with responses out of our control. Learn to generate the responses that you desire by choosing the appropriate words. If you’re trying to elicit compassion, conjure up an appropriate benevolent image. If you’re attempting to provoke excitement, electrify your words and let them become a catalyst for action.
Know your audience. Even if all you’re doing is chatting with people at trade shows, remember that people are different and their values may change depending on where you are in the country. You should try to stay away from more controversial topics and remain respectful. After all, what may offend one person could enliven the next, and what may captivate a certain audience could bore others. Select your words with your audience in mind.
Keep your lingo current. Some words relating to the human condition will always hold a certain power. Others rise and fall over the waves of history. Seek out the spirit of the community and try to understand the state of world affairs and you can capitalize on the fluctuating nature of language. To wit, when’s the last time you twitpic’d something?
Stay in control of the debate. Perhaps the greatest skill among politicos is framing and reframing a debate toward potentially more advantageous topics. Of course, this takes a fair amount of practice and, as I said, skill. But if there’s a touchy subject that you’d like to avoid, then this practice of anticipating outcomes could only serve you. In the end, the person with the most control over their language and the ability to frame the situation will usually have the greatest impact.
Be honest. Above all, remember to be honest with yourself and your customers. You want your words to create an atmosphere that positively reflects you and your business. If you misrepresent yourself, you’ll eventually be unmasked.
The best way to become better acquainted with the tremendous power of words is to practice using them. Something as simple as spending a little extra time writing and editing your emails is a great start. Before you know it, you’ll become excited about the influence of language and look forward to opportunities to demonstrate your prowess.
How have you used the power of speech to help your business? Let us know in the comments section.