Perspective is everything, and we are taught to interpret symbols in images as well as words. When you see a blue box with an “F”, we associate it with Facebook. A large green “M” represents a can of Monster. But symbols are not just images, they are also words. When you hear the word “success”, you automatically think money, grades, and suits before we think happiness and long-term progress. When we hear “work”, we think of tedious, endless tasks of working for long hours with bare minimum appreciation instead of the long-term outcome of “no pain no gain”.
But what if everything were as simple as a syntactic reversal to naturally, not conditionally, achieve results?
When someone says “I was thinking of doing this,” we automatically assume they mean they’ve changed their mind now. When they say “I am thinking about doing this,” we interpret it as they haven’t done it yet.
People have associations with words – both positive and negative. Children don’t like homework, but they like missions, adventures, and projects. We can condition them to work, but that takes effort on both parties. Teenagers don’t like rules, but they respond more positively to suggestions and guidelines as they feel they have a choice. Adults don’t like work, but what if work were called “time killers”, “money makers”, or “a level in a game”?
When you’re young, you rely on what you are told. When you become an adult, you make your own choices based on what you’re taught versus what you’ve experienced. If you want someone to respond positively to use, find words they associate positively. Negative words result in negative results, positive words have positive outcomes. If you want to get what you want, communicate in the syntax they use – speaking to children means using “kid-words”, speaking to teenagers means making analogies with music and movies they like. When communicating with academics, they will automatically respect you more when you use good vocabulary and good grammar. When communicating with the general populous, use simple and concise words.
We are taught to exert a certain level of respect so that others will respect us, but the truest form of respect is when we are willing to choose words according to their responses. Fearful people respond to intimidation; fighters respond to perceived victory.
Often, we become frustrated and angry that people “just don’t listen”, but it’s usually because they’ve heard a word they associate negatively. When someone is told to “wake up earlier”, they see that as a constraint on their freedom. Rather, say “if you wake up early you could get more done” comes across as a suggestion rather than a demand. When someone is told to “go to sleep early”, they associate it with “punishments” because in our childhoods, “staying up late” was perceived as a luxury, a reward.
When you offer people choices and positive associations, they will personally feel that they have made good choices. This builds their confidence and self-respect, which in turns builds their respect for you. People who respect themselves will respect others – but it is not up to us to decide whether or not the person is respectful simply based on appearance. Most of the time, people appear to be disrespectful simply because they haven’t learned to communicate.
Let people hear what you want to say by saying it in ways they will listen.