Mark Twain and the Electric Fish: One Great Communication Tip

Communication Struggles? Ever notice how hard it is to stay tuned when people drone on, even if you want to pay attention, which a lot of the time you don’t? The Power Pause Mark Twain may not have known the why but he sure did know the what, when he said: “The right word may be effective, but no […]

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Communication Struggles? Ever notice how hard it is to stay tuned when people drone on, even if you want to pay attention, which a lot of the time you don’t?

The Power Pause

Mark Twain may not have known the why but he sure did know the what, when he said: “The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”

Electric fish know it too. In this study, the ones that were in their tanks alone just went along humming without pausing very much at all. But when they were in pairs, the ones who were on the other end of the pause got all stimulated by whatever the speaker fish signaled after the pause.

In humans too, “auditory systems respond more strongly to words that come right after a pause….(and) that continually stimulated neurons produced weaker and weaker responses.”

Maybe you all knew that. Instinctive perhaps, but can’t say I ever thought about it much myself, not consciously anyway, and for sure now I will.

Constructive Conflict Communication Tips

I suspect this will work very well, not only for public speaking, but for difficult conversations too. From an earlier post on communication, addressing what’s good about conflict and how to do conflict better:

Conflict is everywhere, and can be good when handled well, because:

“If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.” ~ Winston Churchill or William Wrigley, Jr. or Henry Ford or…

  • Conflict helps us to learn more about each other and enrich our relationships.
  • Conflict helps us get out in front of our problems, and opens the way to positive change.
  • Conflict done well can become a welcome visitor, rather than something to avoid or dread.

Before I knew about Mark Twain and The Electric Fish, in this same post I offered tips for constructive communication. These were:

  • Spirit of speech is True, Kind, Necessary, Beneficial.
  • Timing of conflict conversation is when all can attend well to it.
  • Open conversation with calming technique of your choosing to put the ‘higher brain’ rather than the lower brain ‘pain body’ at the table, e.g., open with power breathing (instructions in pulldown on website “Complimentary …” box, expressions of gratitude, hand holding, other…
  • The one person speaks, the other listens actively, involving, eye contact without distraction. If there is distraction reschedule to a better time. When the speaker has paused, the listener repeats what has been heard to check for accuracy.
  • The speaker may say “When _____happened, I felt _____ and, unless you have a better idea, and I’m open to hearing that from you, I believe it would help if______.”
  • The listener validates the emotion, e.g., “I can see how you would be feeling X.”
  • The listener thanks the speaker for the vulnerability in sharing and may inquire whether feedback would be appreciated, or has need been met.
  • The speaker thanks the listener for their attention, and responds that the issue has been addressed, or that more conversation would be helpful at this or another time to be arranged.

Clients have used the above with great success, but I can’t wait to add this new one in.

Adding In and Trying Out the New Tip

As you many already know, I am a big fan of the pause in general, especially the power breathing pause, which you can find, if you haven’t already, on my website in the complimentary exercises box midway down the page.

I, for one, am really looking forward to experimenting with this communication pause myself. Maybe you will too, and then let us know what you find and what you think?

Warm wishes,

Madelaine

Photo by Jill Burrow from Pexels

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