Words & Numbers & The Truth

There are so many things to communicate that we need words and numbers to tell it all. We work to craft the message or add up the numbers so everything balances out and tells the truth. The challenge is that words and numbers can be manipulated and bent to tell anything but the truth. Word smithing and creative accounting have become clever tools used all too often to distort too many messages, as a result the audience has to pay attention and decipher the truth.

The best skill an audience can employ is good listening. Not the basic version, it means looking between the lines and hearing what isn’t being said to understand how the message is being presented. Not everyone is comfortable being direct, so their message may go around the bend before it reaches it’s destination. Some people used elaborate, ornate or too many words to deliver their message, which means wading through it all to figure out what is important.

We assume that when we say things or show numbers that our audience understands our message. That is all too often a huge assumption that can get us into a lot of trouble. Just saying it doesn’t mean it was heard, or processed, or understood. It is the job of the communicator to check for understanding and explain what wasn’t understood. Allow the people to ask questions and that may mean explaining your point differently this time. People also need time to process which means you need to stop talking. Silence is your friend and will change the game if you let it.

Use your words and your data to clearly and honestly tell what needs to be told. Never forget that your words and the way you use them can enhance or harm your intended purpose. If what you want to communicate is important enough to say it, then use your best self and your best skills to get the truth to your audience.

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