I wrote last time about the Tower of Babel. I’m a bit of a word geek (ironic, I know!) and couldn’t help getting all interested and excited about the word “Babel.” Most normal people probably don’t get excited over etymology (I even spelled “etymology” correctly without spellcheck, which I think takes me way past geek and squarely into “nerd”), so I’ll skip all the in-between and get to the point. We still use this ancient word, slightly modified, today: babble.
Babble is irrelevant, useless, confusing gibberish—words that don’t actually communicate anything.
Ever caught yourself doing this? Most likely it’s when you are under stress and not breathing well. You struggle for words and the prattle that comes out of your mouth doesn’t even make sense to YOU…! You know you sound like an idiot (no offense).
Whether you’re speaking or not, you’re communicating. Like words, nonverbals can be clear, relevant, and specific, or they can amount to unspoken babble. Do your nonverbals send the message that you’re intelligent and purposeful, or that you’re an idiot?
As you know if you follow this blog (and shame on you if you don’t), my husband and I recently bought a house. One of the professionals we worked with during the process ended every sentence with a twittery laugh. Every. Sentence. She had excellent skills in her field and could be Authoritative when she needed to be, but during the course of regular conversation she punctuated her sentences with giggles.
Drove me nuts.
And, I might add, reduced her credibility and her ability to get her message across. The laugh was like nonverbal babble: irrelevant and useless.
When we’re babbling, we often don’t realize it. Words are coming out of our mouths, but we’re so preoccupied that they don’t register. The same is true for nonverbal “babble.” We aren’t aware of the ineffective gestures, space fillers, and softeners we use that get in the way of real communication. However, you can clear away the nonverbal “noise” and mindfully turn up the volume on what you actually want to get across. (Hint: That’s what we’re here for.)
No need to sound like an idiot. Stop babbling. Start communicating.