Self-Improvment: Persuading the Multitude – Earl Nightingale
In the Dialogues, Plato says,
“Georgias, what is there greater than the word that persuades the judges in the courts, or the senators in the council, or the citizens in the assembly, or at any other political meeting? If you have the power of uttering this word, you will have the physician your slave, and the trainer your slave, and the money-maker of whom you talk will be found to gather treasures, not for himself, but for you who are able to speak and to persuade the multitude.”
As so much that we read in Plato, it’s as true today as it was then: the person who has an excellent command of the language has tremendous advantages over those who do not. Especially in getting jobs, and moving quickly up the ranks. In politics, it is of particular advantage… in getting elected, surely— and getting what you want done after you get there—and in getting reelected.
I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times in meetings—business meetings, executive meetings, all kinds of meetings: the person who can stand on his feet and make an excellent and articulate presentation wins the admiration of everyone… and he is marked for advance by his superiors. On the other hand, a person who misuses, or fumbles and mumbles the language—even though that person is bright and competent—is at a distinct disadvantage.
He’s at a disadvantage because a prime prerequisite of management is the ability to communicate clearly and effectively and to motivate those in one’s charge.
In difficult situations, the person with a first-class command of his language can usually extricate himself without too much damage and difficulty. Now perhaps it should not be this way; but there is no doubt that it is, whether we like it or not.
Looks, too, make a tremendous difference. They shouldn’t but they clearly do. It’s been found that good looking people have a much better chance in court—especially with juries—and it applies to men as well as women.
Juries tend to think good looking people are less apt to be guilty, or, if they are guilty… less apt to be at fault or to go on committing other crimes. It’s a fact that everyone looks with more favor on good looking people. They tend to advance more quickly in business… all other things being equal.
We can’t do a great deal about our looks, that being our ancestral plight—for good or bad—or somewhere in between. But we can certainly, any of us, obtain an excellent command of the language. That’s simply a matter of study. It can be learned in the same way one learns any other subject… by reading books on the subject, by assiduously looking up words one does not understand, and by reading aloud until one develops a well—modulated, clearly enunciated way of speaking.
More than anything else, it depends simply on understanding how important our speech is and giving it the attention it deserves. We don’t have to become professors of English to have excellent speaking habits, to speak clearly and to use actual words for what we mean instead of dumb comments such as “you know” or “you know what I mean.” The facts seem to be that people don’t know what you mean unless you state it clearly and effectively.
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Also published on Medium.