Do you feel at loss for the right words when facing an uncomfortable situation? Do you consider others more verbose, more eloquent? Does the words, “a person of few words” resonate with you? If yes, this blog may peek your interest.

Throughout history, words have rallied revolutions, spread messages and spawned movements.

In my case, simple words have done something more valuable. They have sprinkled magical pixie dust to help me sail through many prickly situations. Here are my 4 with due thanks to my teachers.

Situation 1: Smoothing awkward starts to conversations.

When somebody mentions the word – today, “India Today” and “Today’s Show” are my first memory flashes.

Something more earthly? It would be about correcting tense. Something every preschooler parent can relate. Today’s teach becomes yesterday’s taught not teached. As I gently nudge, I wonder – is the irregular verbs list eternal?

Sheryl Sandberg, for her part, added something poignantly powerful and yet different – with the same earthly word – today.

I learned from her to add today after something we frequently say – “how are you?”

Based on my experience, adding “today” to the end of ‘how are you’ does wonders to the receiver. The specificity of “how are you today?” warms them up – the usual vague response become more concrete. And that does something to people. What better way to break the chitchat ice. Try it out and let me know.

Situation 2: When you feel pushed to the wall. Why not be the comeback kid from the corner?

We all use why. In normal circumstances, we ask aloud- why?

In most difficult situations, we tense inwardly with a why. And outwardly we condition ourselves to answer with a yes or a no.

My big aha – in the most difficult situations, speak that very word that turmoils inside and ask it in the best tone you can marshall.

Asking why does something to others – it makes them introspect. Their external push is deflected back inside them.

Who do I need to thank? my young daughter. She hardly says no. She always asks why. I took it to work. It works wonders out of tough situations.

Situation 3: You want to be persuasive and do not know how

English is my second language. Growing up, I was always guided on how to answer a why question. Include the word – because in your answer.

Much later in life, the brilliant Professor Robert Cialdini taught me something that changed my life.

Use the word ‘because’ without ever being asked a question. It does something to people. Here is Robert’s research example…

Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?

60% let the person cut the line.

I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I am in a rush?

94% of people let him cut the line!

My reasoning – as humans, we like to understand reasons. When offered those reasons without asking – the act earns our respect. That does something to all of us. We are more inclined to oblige.

When I am around kids, I notice they use ‘because’ without asking. Some where along the way, we lose that charm. Time to pocket it back.

Situation 4: You are naturally tongue-tied with self inflicted pressure.

And is the word that beads words together. Dangling on its own, it can work wonders. This ad opened up my eyes.

Bridging all 4 words together – to seek your advice.

A friend of mine trades commodities. Outside work, he plays the guitar. When people ask me what I do outside work, I say, “I write blogs.” The predictable follow-up, “What do you write about?” And I pause every time. My answers have run the gamut.

End result is consistently similar – perplexed looks.

Why? I do not know.

Today, I would like to run something by you because I need your help.

Through my blogs, I aspire to share surprisingly ravishing takeaways around simple, daily acts.

Do the words jell? Do you have suggestions?

Always wondering,

Yours truly,

Karthik Rajan.

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