Communications company founder talks effective conversation

Tips for effective communication

• Use positive words continuously

• Use key words such as “speedy,” “reliable” and “exceeds”

• Use language the general public can understand

Source: Merrie Spaeth, founder of Spaeth Communications, Inc.

People generally remember very little of the conversations they have afterward, the founder of Spaeth Communications said during a presentation today.

This is the foundation that Merrie Spaeth based Spaeth Communications, Inc., on.

“I realized that most people approach communication with the attitude of what they want to say, what they think people needs to know,” Spaeth said. “And of course the minute you ask how much people remember from what you say, a lot or a little, what’s the answer? Not that much.

She presented as a part of the Vernon C. Schranz Distinguished Lectureship in Public Relations, explaining what is effective and ineffective speech.

“Over the last couple of decades, we have framed people to think that a good question is a negatively framed question,” Spaeth said. “Bad things are more memorable and negative words cause us huge problems.”

Spaeth stressed the importance of using positive words and continuously using the same positive words. “Speedy,” “reliability” and “exceeds expectations” are all words used regularly by FedEx, who is one of Spaeth Communication’s clients.

“You can frequently take a piece of paper and keep track of the good words,” Spaeth said. “When the words disappear, it says the company is not very invested in them. You can tell where communication fits into this business … You see leaders looking proactively for opportunities to use [positive words].”

Spaeth also said people need to use language the general public would understand. She showed a video of a businessman answering an angry woman’s question in a town hall meeting. He was using complex language and the woman was only growing angrier since she didn’t understand what he was saying and it didn’t seem like he was doing anything to help.

“The thing she wants to hear out of his mouth is ‘I’m sorry.’ … It’s purpose is to be an ‘I hear you,’” Spaeth said. “The next thing she wants to hear is ‘I’ll fix it.’ And ‘I’ll look into it’ or ‘I promise I’ll look into it’ – the word promise matters.”

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