Repetition Can Turn Insanity to Truth

Public speaking and education theory underscore the value of repetition. If repeated, the odds of audience retention increase dramatically for a given piece of information. Repeated more, listeners may start to engage with the material. Debates, testing, execution or indoctrination may ensue.

Take repetition to the next level: get people to live and breathe the information. If repeated enough, opponents may even give up opposing and join the team. The information may not be true. How do you think we came to associate the Trojan War with a lust battle? Enough people recited the Iliad as historical literature, over and over again. Call it “truth conditioning.” Tell a lie so many times that people start to believe it. You may even start to believe it yourself.

When you surround yourself by theories, people and literature that never leave you alone, you start to accept their fiction as fact. Watch Star Wars enough times and you will believe in the Force. Read a book enough times and you will believe the world started six thousand years ago. Spend enough time in your environment and you will believe it’s the only way to live life. We live and breathe conditioning every day and fall prey. You accept “truths” within the world you live and move on accordingly.

Repetition and persistence may be the most powerful tools in mass communication. Say something loud – and then say it again. And again. And again.

Communicate With Nouns, People!

Lives are short and people talk fast. More often than not, they talk too fast to be heard or understood. More than half of that, I’ve noticed lately, comes from a noun deficiency. People assume listeners understand who or what they are talking about and resort to using pronouns (or nothing at all) to frame the sentence. By doing this, you run the risk that listeners will think you are talking about something completely different.

“They’re pretty cool, aren’t they?” “What, spider monkeys?” “What?! No. Our stuff.” “Oh, I was thinking about spider monkeys. Wait, what stuff?” “Our products, dude. Are you listening to me?”

The subject plays an important role in a sentence and should NOT be glossed over. The ridiculous exchange above could have been averted with a better handle on the subject in the first question – “Our products are pretty cool, aren’t they?” In leadership and management, it’s on you to make sure people understand the context of your conversation – not the listener.

I received an email like this before and it boggled my mind: “Mike is trying hard, but Dan is just not up to it. Think we’ll need to let go.” What the hell does “need to let go” mean? Let go of what? Let go of the project? Let go of Mike or Dan? Let go of them both? If I acted on that email without confirming the object of the second sentence, I could have really messed things up. But whose fault would that have been?

Use nouns, people! It won’t sound silly; it will sound specific and productive. And whether listeners know it or not, they will appreciate it.