Gandhi’s example of what it takes to be a great communicator

 In Learning from Luminaries, Politicians

As Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in the month of October ( 2 October 1869) this month’s theme will be Gandhi month. The focus will be aligned with Gandhi’s tenets of simplicity and congruency of communication.

To warm you up for the month, here are quotations and ideas to wash over you.

‘He (Gandhi) recognized that communication is the most effective tool to shape opinion and mobilize popular support.’ (reference)

“How true to his convictions Gandhiji was in his actual functioning as a journalist could be gathered from many of his writings. Here is a passage from Young India (July 2, 1925) about how he strove to serve as a true communicator:”

‘To be true to my faith therefore, I may not write in anger or malice. I may not write idly. I may not write merely to excite passion. The reader can have no idea of the restraint I have to exercise from week to week in the choice of topics and my vocabulary.

It is training for me. It enables me to peep into myself and to make discoveries of my weaknesses. Often my vanity dictates a smart expression or my anger a harsh adjective. It is a terrible ordeal but a fine exercise to remove these weeds.’  (from Mahatma Gandi – The Great Communicator).

Re-read the above quotation and substitute the word, writer for speaker, and the word reader for listener.

Does your vanity every dictate a smart expression? Do you have any weeds in your spoken communication?

The above passage reminds me of the following quotation:

Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away” – Antoine de SaintExupery.

In the same vein, here is another of Gandhi’s quotations.

‘My hesitancy in speech, which was once an annoyance, is now a pleasure. Its greatest benefit has been that it has taught me the economy of words.’  

I have mixed opinions about this quotation. One opinion, is that being economical with words is a worthy goal.

A contrasting opinion, is that if you are hesitant in your speaking, other people may perceive you as uncertain. They might not believe and/or act on what you say.

Let me finish this post with this Gandhi quotation. What I like about it, is the concept of always being open to change.

‘There is no such thing as “Gandhism”, and I do not want to leave any sect after me. I do not claim to have originated any new principle or doctrine. I have simply tried in my own way to apply the eternal truths to our daily life and problems . . .

The opinions I have formed and the conclusions I have arrived at are not final. I may change them tomorrow. I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and nonviolence are as old as the hills.[355]’

Own the Conversation

What is one idea or principle from this post that you could weave into your thinking and/or speaking in the next seven days?

Could you be open to changing one of your opinions? Could you be more economical in using words? Could you not speak with malice, anger or idly?

p.s. Check out this post entitled, Dignity – an extremely powerful pose.

p.p.s. “Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.” ― Charles DuhiggThe Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

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