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Words Are Only Suggestions


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The metaphors we come up with, or use regularly are often very well calibrated.

For example, when Bill Clinton was running for president, he seemed to use a lot of anchors, self points and covert gestures during his debates.

And aptly enough, he was called "Slick Willie" by his opponents.

Slick is a word that doesn't reference the words somebody uses, rather than how they act.

Ronald Reagan, on the other hand, was called the "Great Communicator."

Which indicates more of a direct, word based system.

Which is exactly what he used to utterly smash Mondale in one of the debates.

At the time Reagan was pretty old.

So the question on everybody's mind, but not quite put directly to him, was whether he was too old to be president.

So the "Great Communicator" used that to his advantage, using a reframe.

"I don't want to make this debate about age," he began, before the debate even started.

"I will not hold my opponent's youth and inexperience against him."


Game over.

Another interesting metaphor is how we describe what's really being said, beyond the words.

English has a TON of words.

The English language has gone through a ton of changes in the past few hundred years.

French, Latin, Greek, even Norse have made their way into the English language.

Japanese is another story.

Many, many fewer vocabulary words.

But when they speak, their emotions are just as complex as anybody else's.

So in Japanese, you have to really pay attention to the energy.

When this idea is expressed in English, we say "read between the lines."

Meaning even the stuff that is unsaid is dependent on the words that ARE being said.

But in Japanese they say, "read the air."

Which means you have to completely ignore the words and pay close attention to the context, the relationships between the various speakers, etc.

The idea that words are only a small part of communication is pretty ubiquitous.

Even when we DO use words, somebody like Reagan can flip them around anyhow.

To mean whatever they want.

So long as you've got a strong enough frame, words are really kind of like stop lights in the middle of nowhere.

Only a suggestion.

But if you ONLY pay attention to words, or if you believe that the words are the MAIN part of the communication, you'll get smoked.

By smooth operators like Slick Willie or word wizards like the Great Communicator.

But if you learn to "read the air," you'll have a huge advantage.

Learn How:


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