Creating Effective Outcomes Through Our Conversation
How can we increase the effectiveness of our conversations and use our speaking to create better outcomes? How we use language in conversation continually opens and closes possibilities for us in life. This is because language not only describes the world we observe, but it also creates the world we live in; because within the words we use are actions. The various basic linguistic acts inherent in language are called: Assertions, Declarations, with a subset called Assessments, and Commitments, which can include both Requests and Offers.
Studies have shown that linguistic acts are a key ingredient in conversation regardless of the language we speak. Using language we tell others how things are: 'This is a critical situation...' We try to get others to take action: 'Could you assist me with...' We commit ourselves to taking action: 'I will assist you to...' We express our feelings and attitudes: 'When I don't communicate clearly I become...' We bring about changes in the world by what we say: 'I will improve my performance this year by...' We offer to do something for another: 'Would you like me to assist you to...' These ways of using language occur in everyday conversation. Let's now look more closely at Declarations.
Declarations are statements about 'what will be' from this time forwards. They carry a force that generates a new reality. They are expressions about the different circumstances in life that are made in the present and yet have a profound impact on the future. Some examples I can recall include: the voting deadlock following the US election in 2000 that was ruled on by the Supreme Court and delivered the Presidency to George W. Bush. The court 'declared' by a majority of five to four that Bush had won the State of Florida. Another is the declaration by the then President of the International Olympic Committee Juan Antonio Samaranch when he announced the awarding of the 2000 Olympic games. He 'declared' ...and the winner is Sydney.
What gives a declaration its impact is not so much the individual making the declaration, but the social role they occupy. Examples of social roles include: Police and judges. Referees and coaches. Principles and teachers. Chairpersons and Chief Executives. A particular social group - a community, a city, or a country, vests specific authority in a particular role to perform certain tasks. The authority of a role can reside in an individual, or in a group, who may be elected or appointed, such as: Juries and tribunals. State and national parliaments, Boards of directors and boards of inquiry. And declarations can be considered valid or invalid according to the authority that the person or persons listening vest in the speaker.
And how is this relevant to us? How can we use declarations to create better outcomes and a different reality in our world? When we set goals and plans for our future we are making a declaration about how things will be, to ourselves and also to those around us. Here's what Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan say:
"All generative action relies on speech acts; an action taken through language. The most fundamental of speech acts is a declaration, which brings a possible future into existence. A declared future is not a dream or a hope, but a future to which you commit yourself. Creating a new future makes you the author of your life in a way few people have ever imagined. Investing in yourself, putting yourself at risk, is essential to rewriting the future. We do this by committing, which is another speech act. We put everything we have at stake for the new future. Just as a default future isn't certain, a created future isn't a done deal either. What we invent is a possibility, to which we commit our entire being. When we realize that we have the power to declare and commit to a new future, the world occurs as a world that you control."
To Your Success,
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