Recently my very cute ––fire engine red — Pontiac Vibe was struck by another vehicle while parked in front of my Columbus home. This happened at 7:15am Monday morning, so you can imagine how frazzled I was to find that the week had begun on such a note. None the less, as I proceeded throughout the day, first phoning the police, my insurance company, the driver’s insurance company, the body shop, and then finally, Hertz Car Rental, I found myself doing a couple of things.
First, — which goes without saying, but I’ll say any how — I had the same conversation over and over again. Second, and more importantly, the conversation kept going something like this:
Me: “Hello, my name is Erika Pryor and I’m calling to report that my legally parked car was just struck by another vehicle and I need to find out what my next steps are from here…”
Them: “Oh, I’m sorry to hear you were involved in an accident, the next thing you need to do is…”
Me: “No, I was not involved in an accident, rather, my legally parked car was struck by another vehicle. I was not operating the car and not involved in the accident.”
Them: “I’m sorry I don’t understand. Where you driving the car involved in the accident?”
Me: “No, I was not driving the vehicle at the time. The vehicle was legally parked in front of my home at the time it was struck by another vehicle.”
Them: “Thank you for that additional clarification.”
Me: “You’re welcome. Now that we have that settled, what do we do next?”
Although this short exchange seems annoying at first glance, I believe there is an interesting lesson to learn from it about this idea that Rhetorical Finesse Is Not By Accident. By this I mean, our words and language have meaning and to be conscious of the words we choose is to exercise is what I like to call: Rhetorical Finesse. To do so is to suggest that we are mindful and careful about how we speak and to whom because every moment of communication really stands as an opportunity to misunderstand and misinterpret your message.
So, the question you maybe asking yourself right now is: “What can I do to enhance my Rhetorical Finesse?” Great question. Here are a couple of action steps to consider that can increase your ability to communicate with clarity and purpose.
- Think What You Will Speak First: This is a bit more elaborate than think before you speak, more so, imagine what that statement or conversation is going to “look” and “sound” like in your mind prior to engagement. I find this strategy particularly useful when preparing to meet with individuals for the first or second time.
- Be Purposeful in Your Speech: In other words, speak with purpose. If you have something to say, Say It! Don’t undercut yourself, beat around the bush or undermine your own ideas. Importantly, speak with the authority that you have based on your knowledge, research, expertise and/or experience. Don’t allow the position or authority of others to intimidate you and make you whence. I too am guilty of this, so it’s a challenge we must work through but entirely manageable.
- Speak Often with Others You Do Not Know: Although this seems simple, frequently we go through entire days never engaging in dialogue with others that are not part of our family, friend, or professional network. So, people at the gas station, 7-11, grocery store, and other service industries go unnoticed in our day-to-day lives. Why not take these opportunities to enhance your Rhetorical Finesse and communication skills? No reason why not, so try it today!