16: Stop the Insanity!
Quit emphasizing ‘AND’ and Balance
Why do people emphasize the word ‘and’ rather than the key words on either side of it? The purpose of that little conjunction is to connect similar type items together. Yet, AND has a habit of drawing focus away from those items and informational elements. There are several reasons why:
1. The musical downbeat and rhythm of the message.
2. Lack of follow-through and breath-support on the final item.
3. The speed and tempo in which someone speaks.
4. Lack of commitment.
5. Confidence and knowledge of the items.
Let’s explore how to create “Bookends” with two elements in a sentence to achieve balanced speech.
Hello AND Welcome Back.
Wait a minute. Is that sentence in balance? Is the word ‘AND’ really the focus of that statement? Perhaps, if it’s been awhile since you welcomed someone back. “Hello AND Welcome Back.’ That can work if you’ve chosen to dismiss the second part of the statement because being Welcomed Back is a given and not anything special.
But what if information on either side of the ‘AND’ are equally important. Then, the ‘AND’ needs to be de-emphasized and the words on either side of the ‘AND’ need to be spoken with equal emphasis and attention. That tiny word AND’s intention is to connect items of the same class or type together. Right?! That being the case, the sentence would sound balanced like this: HELLO and WELCOME BACK.
Why do people emphasize that tiny connector word that doesn’t have any real value and functions as a word that merely connects and joins sentence elements together? Let’s weigh in on the ‘AND’ now!
SCALE & BALANCE: How to speak so your message is even.
Scale… and… Balance. Notice how all three words are evenly spaced so the pacing gives all three words equal value. If spoken faster, it would sound like this: Scale AND Balance. With the rushed tempo and melody, the AND has a tendency to stand out. But, if each of the key words: SCALE – BALANCE have equal importance and the ‘and’ is unimportant, the tempo and rhythm has to change to sound more like this: “Scale… and Balance.” The added ellipses (…) is used to separate the key words and implies a change in movement and attitude on the final word. Therefore, during the … pause, a smile begins to form on ‘and’ a nod is added on the word ‘balance.’
[Remember how we used small or large actions on Active and Non-Active Verbs in Episode 14?]
Sentences are often out of balance because of the lack of follow through… like a golfer who doesn’t continue to swing the club after hitting the ball. The same is true with speech. The emotion and feeling of the final word needs to ring out and reach the listener’s ear and create an emotional connection on the follow through.
Another way to balance words on either side of the word ‘AND’ is to place the first word or phrase on one hand and gesture with the other hand on the last word or phrase. I call these “Bookends.” And, if I use my hands to give equally balanced gestures, the placement of hands should resemble a scale with the equal amount of weight balanced on each side.
BALANCE the SCALE of Speech.
One of the things people tend to do when not totally committed to the words and message is to pull back and disengage after delivering that thought. One hand is relaxed and lowered after saying the word ‘SCALE’. The other hand becomes engaged briefly as it lifts up to say the word ‘BALANCE’ but can’t hold the volume, emotion, and commitment either. The speech scale becomes tipped and uneven. People tend to drop energy, retreat, and pull gestures away from the person or group their talking to and back to themselves when they’re uncomfortable or speaking someone else’s words.
I call this pullback: Position One. Rather than connecting with someone outside our personal space, the speaker retreats to safety closer to their body. The result is an uneven, in-and-out speech pattern with less than 100% commitment to the message.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
Practice these phrases in front of a mirror to see if you pull back or if you stay engaged and the words and body movements are balanced on either side of the connecting word ‘AND’.
- Scale and balance.
- It’s fast and easy.
- We need to go to work first and meet friends for dinner later.
- You need to stay healthy and have less stress in your life.
- This is due to the accumulation of macrophage white blood cells and low-density lipoproteins that carry cholesterol and triglycerides.
If you find that the word ‘AND’ insists on staying the focus word, start smiling on the word ‘AND’ and nod or add another gesture on the final word or phrase. You can also add another action or movement to the second bookended word we discussed in the last two VERBS and NOUNS Real Talking Tips episodes.