Contrary to popular belief, the word “verbal” does not only mean “spoken”; it also means “utilizing words.” What you say and how you say it are often equally important when it comes to convincing others.
Albert Mehrabian, a professor emeritus of psychology at UCLA and author of Nonverbal Communication, tested the effects of such social interactions as cutting into a crowded line and determining whether a smile or a quick excuse would lead to greater acceptance of the transgression. Both did.
But Mehrabian’s research became distorted over the years.
His work is now characterized as proving that words simply don’t matter. Some people who misinterpret Mehrabian’s teachings even use a false statistic — suggesting that words are only seven percent of the power of communication, with style accounting for the other 93 percent. That’s nonsense, and you know it.
Here are some vivid business metaphors and analogies you can begin using immediately to “power up” your own language skills:
• “That guy is the LeBron James of R&D. Put the ball in his hands, and watch what happens next.”
• “The proposed region is the Siberia of markets: hard to reach, intolerable climate, excessive regulation, poor communication. Why would we want to go there?”
• “Selling our product is like playing shortstop in the Majors — it looks easy until you try it.”
• “Entering that market would be like exploring a funhouse: Just when you think you’ve seen everything, the floor collapses.”
Also consider unpacking your trunk of adjectives to amp up your power quotient. Instead of simply declaring that your team has to make a decision, try describing it as a crucial decision, or perhaps a far-reaching decision, or a key decision. Be descriptive in your perception of another person’s perspective by using such terms as enlightened, critical, or well-informed.
Remember, a strength overdone is a weakness. But judiciously used, well-chosen adjectives can work tremendously in your persuasion efforts.