Order Up Some Different Word Order

6.9.16 word orderThe words you choose to communicate with are important, and the order that you put the words in can pack the biggest punch.

Think movie titles, which need impact to be remembered.  The musical concept of ‘perfect pitch’ becomes the movie Pitch Perfect, a related but different musical concept, and 100% on target.

Consider this sentence:  It’s not more thinking about yourself, it’s thinking about yourself more.  What, huh?!? – that one’s a mind bender; better read it again to catch the comparison.

Some may think the expression is basically saying the same thing twice, just convoluted the second time, but note the clever distinction. ‘More thinking about yourself’ implies that there is an inadequate amount of self-thinking happening.  ‘Thinking about yourself more’ implies a lack of self-consideration, which is about the quality of the thinking.

Here’s a classic truism: No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.  While this maxim is frequently used in sales training, it is applicable across much of communication.

Sure there are more direct ways to say, “Show them that you care before talking or they won’t listen to you” but notice how much more impact the clever expression has.  Sentence formation counts – if you want your words to carry power and influence.

A good way to show wit is to take a common expression, a cliché, and transpose two key words groups with each other.  Never put off for tomorrow, what you can do today becomes: Never do today what you can put off for tomorrow – an effective way to flip the meaning.

At first the brain assumes it’s the standard cliché, then realizes it’s been taken for a ride with an incongruent flip.  Rewind and replay to catch the meaning of the new juxtaposition.

When words are constructed to make us stop and think, they have power.  Our brains evolved to take mental shortcuts whenever possible, to save our energy (the brain is an energy hog) for the important thinking processes coming; those shortcuts tell our brain not to listen to mundane, rote, yeah-yeah-I-got-it sentences.  We quickly move on mentally – “oh, sorry, I stopped listening…”

Clever language constructions wake up our brain to do the work of processing the unfamiliar.  We want to understand and our brains enjoy working, which makes linguistic word play interesting and fun.

Need to make a power statement to carry some punch? Add instant impact with a surprising word order shift.  Practice makes perfect, or should I say: Make practice perfect – oh, just try it!  Those old clichés could use a reboot, and you’ll come out looking like a witty writer 🙂


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