The human voice: It's the instrument we all play. It's the most powerful sound in the world, probably. probably. It's the only one that can start a war or say "I love you." And yet many people have the experience that when they speak, people don't listen to them. And why is that? How can we speak powerfully to make change in the world?
What I'd like to suggest, there are a number of habits that we need to move away from. I've assembled for your pleasure pleasure here seven deadly sins of speaking. I'm not pretending pretending this is an exhaustive exhaustive list, but these seven, I think, are pretty large habits that we can all fall into.
First, gossip, speaking ill of somebody who's not present. Not a nice habit, and we know perfectly well the person gossiping five minutes later later will be gossiping about us.
Second, judging. We know people who are like this in conversation, and it's very hard to listen to somebody if you know that you're being judged and found wanting at the same time.
Third, negativity. You can fall into this. My mother, in the last years of her life, became very, very negative, and it's hard to listen. I remember one day, I said to her, "It's October 1 today," and she said, "I know, isn't it dreadful?" (Laughter) It's hard to listen when somebody's that negative.
And another another form of negativity, complaining. Well, this is the national art of the U.K. It's our national sport. We complain about the weather, about sport, about politics, about everything, but actually complaining is viral misery. misery. It's not spreading sunshine and lightness in the world.
Excuses. We've all met this guy. Maybe we've all been this guy. Some people have a blamethrower. They just pass it on pass it on to everybody else and don't take responsibility for their actions, and again, hard to listen to somebody who is being like that.
Penultimate, Penultimate, the sixth of the seven, embroidery, exaggeration. exaggeration. It demeans demeans our language, actually, sometimes. For example, if I see something that really is awesome, awesome, what do I call it? (Laughter) And then of course this exaggeration exaggeration becomes lying, out and out lying, and we don't want to listen to people we know are lying to us.
And finally, dogmatism, the confusion of facts with opinions. opinions. When those two things get conflated, you're listening into the wind. You know, somebody is bombarding bombarding you with their opinions opinions as if they were true.It's difficult to listen to that.