Communicating More Effectively

The brain thinks in pictures, not words. Not that you remember your last dream, but if you asked yourself whether you visualized the dream in words—as you are reading now—or you visualized in pictures (images), you will conclude that you dreamt in visuals. (Remember that in human history reading is a relevantly recent development, and only in very recent times has the printed word become available to the "common folk.") Being aware that people think in pictures—that they construct visuals in their minds—can help you become more effective. When in an airport recently, I  heard the gate agent say to a young boy, "Don't go down the ramp." I knew a problem had been created. Just a few minutes after the airport official finished his sentence, I saw him chase after the youngster—down the ramp. Can you picture "Don't"? Think of the parent who has a challenge with the child who wets his bed. After tucking him in, the parent said, "Don't wet your bed tonight." What will the child visualize upon falling asleep? How much more effective would be the statement, "Let's see if you can keep your bed dry tonight." Which statement conjures up the image the parent wants? Chances are the airline gate agent would have had less stress and more success saying to the youngster, who was curious to go down the ramp, something like, "Everyone needs a special pass to go there." While waiting in the office to present a seminar to a middle school faculty recently, I glanced at the school rules—-all phrased in negative terms. Automatically, my mental exercise was to immediately rephrase them in positive terms. The process is so easy once you become conscious of it and practice changing negative pictures into positive ones. My experiences have taught me that people do better with positive images rather than with negative ones. Let's not forget that we adults are grown-up kids in this regard. We also communicate and process information best in picture form. Communicate your message by painting the picture you WANT to have created, not the one you don't want.