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Perceptual Language

 

Techniques > Use of language > Persuasive Language > Perceptual Language

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Method

Talk about what you perceive rather than asserting what 'is'.

Use words that indicate how you are perceiving. This can include:

  • Visual words: appears, looks like, notice, etc.
  • Audio words: sounds, I hear, etc.
  • Thinking words: seems, etc.
  • Feeling words: feels like, enjoyed, etc.

Example

It seems like I am being excluded from the conversation. Not 'You are excluding me from the conversation.'

It sounds like you are not very happy. Not 'You are unhappy.'

That looks difficult. Not: 'That is difficult for you.'

Discussion

When we sense the world around us, we interpret these experiences to fit with our inner views of the world. Yet these views are not perfect. They are simply the best understanding we have so far.

In most conversation, it is accepted to describe perceptions as being 'real'. Hence I may say 'That wall is black' rather than 'The wall looks like it is black' and will not be challenged. However, there are many situations where our interpreted perceptions can cause problems.

Misunderstanding often happens where the other person re-interprets what we say to guess at what we are thinking (this is known as 'Theory of Mind') -- and easily gets this wrong. In this way, a simple comment can turn into conflict, for example if I say 'Why are you unhappy' then you may reply by turning the tables, such as 'I'm ok - what's up?' It is more difficult to challenge me if I say 'You look unhappy'. 

Explicitly describing our perceptions and interpretations as such is more accurate and honest, but is also more long-winded, taking more time to detail. This is one way

Describing something as a perception talks about our experiences and interpretations of the world around us. This is very difficult to challenge as only the individual knows what they are perceiving.

See also

Sensory Language, Theory of Mind

 

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