A brilliant thought is on the tip of the tongue, waiting to be released. However, it comes too late; already eyes have begun to glaze over and the conversation moves on.
Regardless of mental capacity, those who express themselves succinctly and eloquently come off as more intelligent than their mumbling, inarticulate counterparts. While the ability to communicate well does not go hand in hand with intelligence, it is often perceived to.
Take an interview situation, where effective verbal expression can be the strongest tool in one’s arsenal. One of two candidates, both with the same work experience, may describe their past work in vague generalized terms, while the other is able to paint their work history as a rejuvenating exercise in professional vigour.
Guess who is more likely to land the job?
What’s more is that when a gap exists between thoughts and the ability to communicate them, the opportunity to share with others is diminished. There are any number of challenges that widen this gap including confidence, knowledge base, vocabulary and language fluency.
Anyone who has learned a new language, and consequently spent a large amount of time sounding like a two-year-old, knows that while an idea may exist in one’s mind, the means for expressing it sometimes does not. The chance to switch back to one’s native tongue instantly bolsters the power of any argument.
Of course, there exist numerous other kinds of intelligence. Actions speak louder than words on the football field, for instance.
But while it’s possible to get by without, say, musical intelligence, everyone finds themselves in social and business situations that require some form of communicative effort.
These thoughts waiting to be expressed exist previous to the words that describe them. For instance, while reading a book, the discovery of an idea you recognize as your own but had never been able to properly articulate. To take a more mundane example, the clear signs of jealousy babies show before ever learning how to speak.
If these depths of feeling exist long before language is acquired, and long after it is mastered, there can be an acknowledgment that there can exist infinite layers of emotion and thought, although whether or not they are ever expressed is another matter.
If speech is one of the strongest mediums to concretely communicate ideas, the responsibility then lies on the individual to be able to learn to share their thoughts with the utmost care.
The courses that are now back in swing are a case in point. Even if a class’s content, or given assignment, is not engaging, the mere act of forcing strained (or fluid) words out of one’s mouth and giving concrete thought to vague ponderings is worth it, simply because it allows for a greater bond between murky thought and verbal expression.
While being fully self-expressive is gratifying as an act on its own, the desire for strong communication skills also comes down to validation from others.
Not being able to give life to drifting nebulous thoughts equates to a reduced recognition of one’s intellect. Although not caring what others think is nice, being taken as dull is not.
Ezra Bridgman is a student at the University of Winnipeg.
Published in Volume 65, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 13, 2011)