Jan 8, 2012


There is an English proverb- “To talk without thinking is to shoot without aiming”.  There is a Chinese proverb as well which says “To talk much and arrive nowhere is the same as climbing a tree to catch a fish”.

Talking makes a lot of difference in our personalities and in the creation of personification. To whom we talk what we talk, and where we talk, can become a game changer for good or bad. Sometimes in our personal lives we take talking for granted to the much annoyance of people around us. At our workplaces, if we do not think twice before talking, the consequence may result in losing the job. And the non-thoughtfulness in public life may bring embarrassment and loss of an image.  Therefore how we talk to people is an art, how we construct our thinking in order to talk is a science and if our talking generates revenue for the company then it is commerce. This makes talking a combined mix of art, science, and commerce.

Talking also incorporates the sense of engineering in measuring pitch and frequency in communicating with others, the art of medicine in using our vocal cords and balancing the tone with the help of our mind and intelligence, and twisting of the tongue for promoting commerce. Talking also represents behavioural psychology. For example, while talking, the way we gesture towards listeners may reveal the essence of talking itself. Talking is also logic, as while talking it must have some logical sense to convince the listeners. If the talking philosophises the subject and content of a talk, then it becomes a philosophy. 

Talking can also have attributes such as positive talking, negative talking, nonsense talking, constructive talking, loose talking, bitter talking, soft talking, burble talking, patter talking, ramble talking, murmur talking, loud talking, silent talking or no talking at all. The types of talk may include conversational talk, business talk, inspirational talk, devotional talk, religious talk,  spiritual talk, encouraging talk, disparaging talk, personal talk, dramatic talk, frightening talk, threatening talk, entertaining talk,  sweet talk, harsh talk  love talk, hate talk etc.

Human temperaments or moods influence a person a great deal while talking to someone. Emotional talking may activate the pituitary glands of listeners, rational talking may make the issues clear and to the point, comical talking may make people laugh whereas serious talking may make the mood and the environment heavy and sombre. Talking in rhythm may become a song; otherwise it may become noise. By talking lovingly, a sense of attachment can be generated while hate talk can create a rift between people and society.  Positive talk can cause our spirits to crescendo whereas negative talk can throw us in a chasm of depression and self- admonishment. Loose talk may result in the loss of social confidence whereas no talk or talking less may mystify the personality. 

Technically, in order to talk nicely we have to engineer our talk to produce the right amount of frequency and pitch in order to make it pleasant and impressive. Therefore talking depends upon the frequency and pitch of the sound wave which we produce while talking. Scientifically, the number of cycles per unit of time of sound we produce while talking is called frequency and it is measured in terms of interchangeable Hertz or Hz or KHz (kilo hertz= 1000 Hz). The range of human hearing in the case of young people may vary from 20 HZ to 20 KHz whereas in older people it may be 16KHz. Frequency is directly related to wavelength which means the distance in space it takes to complete a full cycle of a frequency. Pitch is a psycho acoustical attribute of sound which denotes the sound pressure level. I have described the scientific characteristics in order to correlate the importance of sound which we produce while talking.

Medically, the talking sound is produced jointly by the tongue, lip, mouth, larynx and pharynx situated in our throats. Larynx is also called the Voice Box where pitch and volume is manipulated. Pharynx is divided into nasopharynx, oropharynx and larygopharynx. The manipulation of the source of the sound largely depends on them as it travels through the vocal tract. In the human brain, it is the cerebellum and cerebral cortex where Broca’s area is located that is involved in generating speech. Another region of the brain known as Wernicke’s area that is associated with the processing and understanding of languages.

Commercially, the way we talk or communicate with our clients falls under the preview of Customer Relationship Management or CRM. CRM is a strategy for understanding customers and their needs in order to optimize interactions with them. The main philosophy behind the CRM is that it is less costly to retain existing customers than it is to find new ones. Here, the choice of words in talking to customers helps in keeping them within the fold of the company by providing them maximum satisfaction.

In a software environment, a programmer has to create an interface between the various departments and clients for satisfactory results. He has to create data to identify the best customers, enrich and customize the way we talk or communicate with our clients, manage marketing campaigns and reduce customer response times.
Furthermore, any form of verbal or electronic expressions amounts to the intentions of the mind to talk or communicate. Whether it is in the form of software, e-mails, social media like twitter, face book, LinkedIn, Yelp etc. Therefore, talking electronically tantamount to verbal talking and as such, we have to be careful what it is that we talk about.

On the note of walking the walk and talking the talk, the environment in which we talk matters a lot. No environment is similar in nature and so, we should be intelligent and judicious in choosing our words for talking which can be broadly put under four categories such as: 1) talking at the work place, 2) talking at public forums or communicationg via social media, 3) talking at home to loved ones, and 4) talking to friends and foes. Here, the quality and quantity of talking depends on the environment at work, home or society. For example, at the work place, if the management structure is vertical and one is directly responsible for all communication with his or her immediate boss then the quality and quantity would depend upon the need, requirements, urgency, and the temperament of the boss. Therefore if oral communication, in addition to transmitting thought, stamps its mark on the personality of the individual and conditions future thought, then it is only reasonable to pay as much attention to the types of talk we do in personal or public lives.

Furthermore, in our personal and social lives, we find that some people talk too much. If their talk is relevant, thoughtful, informative, constructive and positive, then I believe that the person is intelligent, sharp, and beyond average and their talking should not be taken for granted.  To describe an anomaly with the brain of a talkative person versus the modern online search engines like Google, when we enter an inquiry on it, through its network of computers & servers, it immediately looks into the billions of folders and files and retrieves information for us with an announcement that it took 10 seconds or 15 seconds to provide us the result. Google does not care whether we got the right information or whether we liked the result, because its search results depend upon the data stored online.

Now imagine the brain of a talkative person which does not take even a fraction of a second while rapidly searching for information stored in billions of neurons, selecting them, sorting them, constructing them, formatting them, looking into the pros and cons, judging its impact on the listeners and then flawlessly delivering them in a split second. Therefore I believe that one cannot make an intelligent conversation without having the knowledge of various subjects, retaining that information in memory and then retrieving them at the nick of time. One may know a lot but if he or she is unable to deliver the knowledge during a conversation then that knowledge has no use. I also believe that keeping quiet and non participation in an intelligent, informative and harmless conversation is not at all a sign of an intelligent people.

A good beginning makes a good ending, therefore to sum up, talking reflects our personalities and the way we think on an issue or a situation and how we deliver them to listeners. Talking also reflects how educated we are or how intelligently we are able to craft our words to make a pleasant, soothing, constructive, informative and convincing conversation.

Wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year 2012 and your comments are very much solicited.

Suman Saran Sinha


Ron McFarland, TOKYO, JAPAN said...

There is a book I just learned about yesterday called SITUATIONS MATTER. I think it addresses this issue in several ways. I haven't read the book but one point is stepping back from a situation, observing the landscape and preparing what to say and how to say it. So, I think way you say and how you say it in any environment, not just work is important and should be taught.

Ron in Tokyo

Gyan Rajhans said...

Another masterpiece Sumanji, we may believe that we are responsible for what we talk, but not for what we think. But what we talk comes from what we think! CONGRATULATIONS!!!



Ye, I'd agree. In CRM too often the focus is on systems and process, and not enough on people, which is surprising for an area that fundamentally is entirely about people!

When I've implemented CRM, I've ensured that there is both a communications charter and training that supports users in how they use CRM to improve communications and dealings with contacts, and that the systems and processes use appropriate language rather than "system language" to encourage engagement.

AnBern Deco said...

Excellent, I have always thought that few people believe the same way I do. At previous employers I by default always became the one to calm the most terrifying clients and customers down. I think it's because I alway greeted with a smile in my voice or on my face, looking the person in his eyes and keeping my voice calm, in control and just the right pitch. It's in my opinion not always the experience and qualifications you have behind your name but personality, self control, understanding AND the ability to listen and keep control of the mood through your voice and gestures and not allow that control to an "out of control" client/customer. Thank you it was really insightful


Excellent and very true. Just to be added I heard someon say "you might regret silence for a moment, but rather that than regretting your words forever" Meanings of sentences, speeches and lectures can change and be interpreted differently purely by gestures, expressions and tone of voice. How often have people not said "It's not what you said, it's how you said it!!!'

Renu Kohli, New Delhi, India. said...

Its advisable to think 9 times before talking on sensitive and strategic issues, as words once spoken are like an arrow gone from the bow, it never comes back.....

Ramy said...

Chacha, another good one to read... Just to add to your technical content, there is a small command which facilitates two computer servers to interact between them. To our surprise, that small command is called "LISTENER". Wonder, first we created a machine, then taught it how to interact the human way and then most of the times, forget it ourselves...

Anonymous said...

Thank you Suman Sinha. I wish I could meet you. That is rarely an event that I succumb to.
Reading your article has lead me to allow myself to find my inward path to the enlightened times of when I studied PILATEs. It returns me to an internal space and place that I had compartmentalized for a few years. I allowed my studies to paralyze me by distracting myself, which in turn afforded me to loose sight of my prescious reflective times for complete balance and my spirituality to become admonished.

Joe Pittari, Toronto, Canada. said...

communication is one of the single most important aspects of work life and personal life. Even in organizations that have effective communications, staff always want more. being an effective communicator is a difficult skill to master, so we do indeed to be very aware of what we say and not say as they can have a negative impact on others...given the wide interpretation of the english language.

Just look at how people misunderstand content in email.

Nice posting and question Suman


Yes, I believe that HOW and WHAT we talk is very important in a little-recognized way.

Westerners (and others) speak noun-based languages. We let the nouns define us. We unthinkingly expect the world to be unchanging. We deny the passage of time, in our lives and our culture. We suffer when things change.

How nice would it be to think and speak a verb-based language? Then, our every thought would carry nuances of the flow of time. For example, we would not be able to say "the car"; instead, we'd say (and think) "that which is being a car right now."

I've heard that some Native American tribes had verb-based languages. I wonder - are there others? How would a person go about learning such a language?

Raja R said...

Suman uncle, I just wanted to comment to say this article is excellent and brought up many points I had never considered before. I especially liked how you broke down the different aspects of talking (the medical, commercial, technical) and the different environments in which it is utilised - it is something that is very commonly applied but never discussed. I have always found it fascinating that every great speech, every incredible novel, and every masterpiece in poetry, stage theatre or play was created using some combination of 26 letters - it is astounding.

I also enjoyed the proverbs you posted above - when you mentioned that sometimes in social situations people tend to talk too much, a famous quote from Abraham Lincoln came to mind: "It is better to be silent and be thought a fool than to speak out loud and remove all doubt". Definitely applies to more than one circumstance you mentioned.

Once again, amazing article Suman uncle and please keep me updated on future ones.


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