15 May “Making choices with language” by Debbie London
“I’m not trying to over-simplify things,” says London, “but communication is about making choices. We make choices with the language we use whether we’re being purposeful or not and those choices have effects.”
When asked if she could elaborate, London continued; “Perception is reality. How individuals recall and interpret a moment or a memory shapes the way s/he behaves. Language is the tool we use to shape those perceptions. If we use negative or derogatory terms to reference some one or some thing, we are inevitably going to behave in like manner. If, however, we think or talk about some one or some thing in glowing and positive terms, we’ll behave accordingly.”
Taking this outside the classroom and into the boardroom is what London has been applying recently; although, she started thinking about perception and reality as a college student. As a sophomore at Syracuse University, Debbie London was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. “There was very little literature written about living with MS at that time [1980’s], especially something that wasn’t written for the medical community, “There have got to be so many people who live a successful life in spite of having MS and in spite of the dooming and limited literature that currently exists,” recalls London.
That revelation led Debbie to writing a doctoral dissertation on language shaping reality. She talked with women who live with MS and discovered that they live successfully with MS largely because of the language they use. “Rarely will you hear someone with MS say, ’oh, poor me’, but more likely you will hear her or him say, ‘Yes, I have MS, and while I’m not happy about it, lots of people have problems.’”
Now when London works with clients, she uses a similar strategy. “If you think confidently, if you use confident and assertive verbal and nonverbal communication,” London says, ”others will perceive you as competent and confident. And perception is reality.”
Dr. Debbie London is an accomplished coach and consultant who brings a combination of international experience and understanding of human interaction to her clients. This is how her biography starts out on The Speech Improvement Company’s website. A former college professor of communication studies, Dr. London has a wide array of experiences on which to draw. When she uses those experiences to make a point with students or clients, the common thread is communication.