By Paddy Kennedy, Principal of Kennedy Communication Studio
Who, other than Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde, could have coined such a wise and witty expression? None, I would say. Surely,Wilde knew of what he spoke, for he paid the huge price of imprisonment for having been himself. Yet he never betrayed his words.
I love this expression and hear myself using it a lot when I teach communication classes. It says it all when it comes to communicating, as far as I’m concerned. And everyone understands immediately what I mean when I quote it. Matters not if I’m working with a CFO of a globalized company preparing his team for negotiations, or a single mom getting ready for a re-entry job interview, communication always comes back to the same one truth: YOU are your message. Not your words. Not your voice. Nor your body language. Rather, YOU – a composite you. Your use of language, tone of voice, non-verbal cues, your face and eyes, your attitude, your intention: these are the mechanisms that drive every message you communicate when you speak.
Whether you are aware of it or not, all of you is what your audience sees, hears, and hence, believes. Or not. We telegraph messages constantly when we speak – especially emotional messages. Our every thought translates simultaneously to an emotion. Not only are our emotions visible, we have 80 or so facial muscles, and with those muscles, we can communicate more than 7,000 expressions – just from the neck up.
Clearly, it is best, first, to know yourself well and, second, to stick to what you know best: You!
Besides, Wilde is right: Everyone else is already taken. And really, who wants to be somebody else? I think we all just want to be ourselves and be heard and be respected. I think that’s the point of communicating.
Paddy Kennedy is the principal of Kennedy Communication Studio. She is an international Strategic Communication Coach with a special interest in working with women in business to develop and train their communication skills to a world class level.