Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Power of an Infinitely Expressive Communicator…In Only Two Steps!

It was his (Merlin’s) voice that fascinated me. Infinitely expressive, it served him in any manner he wished. When he lashed, it could raise welts on a stone. When he soothed, it could have shamed nightingales into silence. And when he commanded, mountains and valleys exchanged places.
--Stephen R Lawhead, Arthur

One of the differences between a decent communicator and an individual who is powerfully persuasive is found in the melody produced by their words and the tonality with which those words are spoken.

Your words have a melody. The question is this: Does this melody serve or deter from the intent of your communication?

Listen to the melody of the words of Merlin’s father, Taliesin, when he was first wooing Princess Charis

...tell me the word that will win you, and I will speak it. I will speak the stars of heaven into a crown for your head; I will speak the flowers of the field into a cloak; I will speak the racing stream into a melody for your ears and the voices of a thousand larks to sing it; I will speak the softness of night for your bed and the warmth of summer for your coverlet; I will speak the brightness of flame to light your way and the luster of gold to shine in your smile; I will speak until the hardness in you melts away and your heart is free... (Stephen R. Lawhead, Taliesin)

Taliesin’s choice of words creates pictures, feelings, and sounds, surrounding Charis’ senses with his message of love. However, what if his tonality sounded like a John Philip Sousa military march? The message would have been lost in the incongruities.

Compare this with Merlin’s words to the Knights of the Round Table when they were about to go in search of the stolen Holy Grail

Hear, Men of Britain, Valiant Ones … the Head of Wisdom speaks. Heed and take warning … the battle is joined, and every man who would achieve the quest must face many ordeals. Be not dismayed, neither be afraid, but face the trials to follow with all forbearance, for the Swift Sure Hand upholds you, and the Holy Grail awaits those who endure to the end. (Stephen R Lawhead’s, Grail)

Well chosen words: words that elicit courage, strength, and valor. However, what if the tonality of the spoken words sounded like something sung by The Carpenters?

Be not dismayed (“They long to be”) or afraid (“close to you…”)

Listen to the conversations taking place around you today. Each person’s words have a peculiar melody: some are monotone, others utilize a few notes, and others create melodies and harmonies that carry their words into the hearts and minds of their listeners. I can have all the relevant facts at hand and choose fairly precise words to convey these facts, but if the tonality conflicts with the intent and words of my message, the message is muted.

Read the following two quotes aloud.

Men speak foolishly of the beauty that slays, though I believe such a thing may exist. But there is also a beauty that heals, that restores and revives all who behold it. (Stephen R Lawhead, Merlin)

Morgian, rarest of beauty, frozen and fatal, mistress of the sweet poison, the warm kiss of death. (Merlin)

You intuitively knew that there is a specific sentiment behind each passage and changed your tonality accordingly. Now, go back, reread each passage aloud: only this time swap tonalities. You can hear the incongruity between the words and the sentiment behind the words (via tonality), can you not? You not only hear it, you feel it. So do those with whom we are communicating.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2015

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