- Thoughts for inspired living

November 7, 2014

Sense or Senses?

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:16 am

C167252 mEverybody’s got a message. The question I pose is this: Does your message appeal to their sense or to their senses?

The answer is probably both, but it seems the messages that resonate more are the ones that lean in the direction of the senses.

If you are solely targeting someone’s intellect, you may totally miss the larger target – their senses.

I’m sure Jane Austen in her late 1700s work, Sense and Sensibility wrote more to the sensations than I’ll ever be capable of, but the title got me curious about the dichotomy.

As much as I have an aversion to the animal rescue, public service announcements on TV (awful B-list actors), I recognize their effectiveness. They don’t appeal to your sense; they tug at your heart strings so you’ll loosen your purse strings.

In personal interactions, it’s more effective to communicate how you feel rather than telling someone the ABCs of how it is.

Having done a radio talk show for a number of years, I can tell you the hot button topics are not filled with intellectual debate. They consist of raw emotion. The most successful talk shows are the ones that cater or pander (depending on your point of view) to your senses.

The original O.J. Simpson trial is a textbook example of sense vs. senses. The prosecution was convinced that their avalanche of facts was enough to win. The defense pandered to the jury’s life experiences and continually tugged on their emotions.

Sense or senses is a work in progress for me. I’m much better at the factual side but recognize that people respond more frequently to what appeals to their senses.

People can counter your facts but they can’t debate your feelings.

What’s more effective in the following scenario? Spouse arrives home late unnannounced. The partner says something like, “You are so disrespectful and selfish for not calling and letting me know you are going to be late.” Then an argument ensues about being selfish and disrespectful. Contrast that with, “When you don’t call and let me know you’ll be late, I get worried sick about you and feel you don’t care.”

My experience is that intellectual arguments contain too much air and not much emotional sustenance, kinda like mental cotton candy. Do the arithmetic: The average IQ in the United States is under 100. If your message needs a higher intellect to follow along, you won’t have many followers.

There’s a reason that the National Enquirer sells 780, 000 copies each week. If you think it’s for the factual content, you’re probably one of their readers. If you noticed my snarkiness in the last line, you’re probably not. But if you fail to recognize that snarky appeals too much to the intellect and not to the emotions, you’ll continue to make the same intellectual arguments that no one listens to.

Sense or Senses? My sense is this: To get people to feel, you can’t always talk about what’s real.

All the best,


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