THE BLOG
12/04/2014 03:11 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

It's Not What You Say That Matters

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When it comes to influencing others, recruiting, selling or motivating people to take action, it has very little to do with WHAT you say.

Typically, however, this is what most focus on.

Having trained many salespeople, recruiters, and even stage speakers, most of them are mostly concerned with what to say... what's my script, what's my presentation, what do I say when they have this objection, etc.

I was reminded of this principle because I recently had a colleague reviewing a transcript of a talk from a speaker friend of mine. She was very unimpressed and actually very critical.

On paper, his grammar was less than polished, sentences were fragmented and many of his concepts left unfinished. She rated him a terrible speaker and someone of little influence. Then I brought her to one of his talks.

She was awestruck!

It was the same speech, same words, same grammar and sentence structure, but he delivered it with such feeling, passion, energy and conviction that it moved her--deeply.

What is the difference?

This is wisdom that will forever affect your ability to influence, persuade, motivate and inspire others...

It's not WHAT you say that matters, its how you FEEL about what you say. Words by themselves have little impact; it's the feeling you put behind the words that give them power.

Jim Rohn taught me this analogy:
Words by themselves are like little shirt straight pins; you know, the kind used in a new folded dress shirt that you have to take out before trying on or wearing. Well, imagine words being like tossing those little pins at you. Sure you will notice it, but you won't feel much.

Now imagine if I wired that little shirt pin to the end of a long iron bar. Now I could drive that pin right through your heart. You see, the iron bar is the feeling, the passion, the emotion and enthusiasm you put BEHIND the words, that is what has impact.

Here is another example to illustrate this important point:
Imagine a yellow house set back behind a white picket fence with a long walkway up to the front door. On the fence door is posted: Beware of Vicious Dog. You have to make a delivery and get a signature. You see that sign and shivers run down your spine.

You creak open the fence door and get a few steps in and from the back corner of the house is the giant head of that vicious dog. He sees you, you see it and it comes charging at you, just missing your left ankle as you escape.

While you are contemplating your options, up strolls a little girl licking a lollipop. Sure enough she goes through the same fence door and starts skipping up the walkway to the front door... and the dog is wagging his tail licking her heels all the way.

What's the difference?

The dog sensed your fear and responded accordingly. The dog sensed the girl's joy and responded accordingly. Same dog, no words, different reactions.
Humans, like dogs, communicate through feelings. Just like a dog can sense fear (deceit, incongruence, lack of conviction), so can humans.

Have you ever had anyone say everything right, but you just knew they were lying? What they said sounded reasonable, but in your gut, you just knew they were lying. People think they can, but they can't really fool others.

I would say this is one of my greatest weaknesses and greatest strengths. I cannot lie, successfully that is. When I am uncomfortable, don't like something or disagree, it is written all over my face and my body language reeks of my true feelings. I (literally) cannot/will not play poker because of it. Yet, at the same time, if I believe in something with my heart, I can be very effective because I radiate, transmit and transmute that feeling of conviction and passion in my communication.

That is what I am recommending to you.

First, you cannot convince somebody of something you are not convinced of. You cannot sell something you have not bought wholeheartedly yourself.

Then, before you communicate (recruit, prospect, present) words to someone, be sure you rekindle and reconnect to your true emotion for what you're saying and then say it with the full passion and enthusiasm of your heart and soul--attach the iron bars of emotion to the straight pins of your words.

What will you do to reconnect with your convictions and feelings before you speak? What will you do to be sure you resell yourself before trying to sell another? Do that and thousands will march in the direction of your command.