Saturday, December 30, 2006

Learn to write and speak in E-Prime

One thing I learned from Karl Albrecht's "Social Intelligence: The New Science of Success" is the need to learn the language of sanity, E-Prime. This means avoiding the use of the following words as much as possible as they lead to mental rigidity, dogmatism, stereotyping.

  • all "to-be" forms and combinations
  • am
  • are and aren't
  • is and are
  • was and wasn't
  • were and weren't
  • be
  • been

Average sentence length must be no more than 20 words, avoid jargon, and always in active voice (e-prime).

Social intelligence requires speaking with clarity and getting rid of semantic malfunctions such as:

  • Opinionitis (Ex. Online gaming is a waste of time)
  • All-speak (Ex. All politicians are corrupt)
  • Or-speak (Ex. You are pro-chacha or anti-chacha)
  • Should-speak (Ex. You should dump that guy and get a new one)
  • Dogmatism (Ex. Anybody who voted for that Senator have self-serving agenda)
  • Labeling (Ex. The people against charter change are elitist.)
  • Sarcasm (Ex. If you used your head, that problem won't be there now)

Antidotes can include:

  • Self-reference vs. Opinionitis (Ex. I don't have time for online gaming as much as I want to )
  • Limiters and qualifiers vs. All-speak (Ex. Some politicians are corrupt)
  • Gray-scale language Or-speak (Ex. There are a lot of ways to look at the charter change issue)
  • Offering options and possibilities vs. Should-speak (Ex. You might want to consider other suitors.)
  • Limiters and qualifiers vs. Dogmatism (Ex. I don't favor the programs of that Senator.)
  • Specifying vs. Labeling (Ex. Some groups doesn't seem to favor charter change.)
  • Neutral language vs. Sarcasm (Ex. I can give you some suggestions to that problem if you like.)

The brain can process 500 words per minute but we can only speak in 150 words. There's 350 words per minute dead time that has to be managed. Of course, some of us do fill it up through other tasks like text messaging while talking. Being provocative (setting bold expectations or agenda) or specific (I have 3 points to tell you), can help in keeping the brain of the parties busy.