How we come across to other people depends on our language. We can appear empathetic, driven or relaxed, regardless of the topic we are talking or writing about. And also the combination of certain words, their position in a sentence, the way in which we emphasise specific words and many other factors also affect how we are perceived. In many situations in our professional and private lives, we therefore need to address how our language affects others and what thoughts and feelings it can trigger.
The power of words
Sometimes, the impact of words is obvious. When we read a good book, the words on the page create images in our head. A single phrase or even a single word on social media can decide whether we categorise a person as sympathetic or unsympathetic. Politicians often use the passive instead of "I" or "we" to avoid committing themselves as much as possible.
Often, however, we are wholly unconscious of the impact our words will have. Marketing reveals particularly clearly just what power words can exercise over our thoughts and feelings. By purposefully using certain words, companies are able to trigger a targeted effect on potential customers.
Consciously adapting language to the situation
How people perceive each other also depends on their communicative environment. Knowing what makes the other person tick and tailoring your impact to the given situation can be the key to success in many different scenarios in life. For example, if a salesperson realises from experience that a customer is still unsure, an overly targeted approach may fail. On the other hand, if the customer has silently long since made up their mind, they generally do not want to waste any more time completing the purchase.
Even when people are speaking in front of an audience, they need to be aware of what that audience needs. For example: what might have come across as professionalism in a situations can prevent the desired charismatic and inspiring effect at the same time.
What impact or manner is actually desired also changes over time. For many employers, for example, agility or flexibility has become increasingly important in our fast-moving times.
Practising impact: is it possible?
In principle, a person's language, voice and impact are relatively stable factors that change very little over time. While the basic effect of our language is difficult to influence, there are still certain aspects on which we can work to create a specific impact in certain situations. Often, even small changes, such as the conscious use of certain words, can be key. For example, when talking or when composing offers, salespeople can consciously focus on certain details to produce an activating and convincing effect. In the same way, content managers can practise writing content in a way that engages and interests.
Impact analysis: how it works
If we want to work on our impact on other people, we first need to know how our language currently comes across. Providers such as PRECIRE make it possible to analyse the impact of speech and text and to optimise them in a targeted manner. With helpful tools such as word clouds, we can map experiences of which words facilitate or hinder a certain impact. Whether the aim is to improve how others perceive you or to prepare marketing content for a defined target group, this is an area in which it is definitely worth investing both thought and time.