The subtle art of speaking about sensitive subjects.


Sun Tzu Principle: “Take advantage of the enemy’s unpreparedness, make your way by unexpected routes, and attack him where he has taken no precautions.”


The way we talk to people about making changes in their lives has a huge impact on whether they will be open to hearing us. Whether they take it on board or not… or make the change… depends on how we serve it up.

When Sun Tzu advised to ‘Attack where there are no precautions’ – what he was saying – for those of us with ambitions for platform mastery – “Position your message to land where they are not defending themselves.”

How does a speaker do that? How does a speaker talk about sensitive subjects? Well, I can think of one sure way to talk about sensitive subjects that works well, and that is to be a storyteller. That’s right, a storyteller.

Did you know a story unlocks and illuminates a sensitive topic in such a way that the audience reaches out to it and brings it in behind their defenses?

This is such a great skill to develop.  Numerous businesses have hired skilled writers, even ones from Hollywood itself, to come in and work with their executives on the craft of storytelling and the reason is because a story can engage an audience in such a way that it allows them to see the sensitive situation through a different set of eyes.

A story brings an emotional engagement and works together with rational engagement. Rational engagement is based on the stimulation of the mind, whereas emotional engagement is based upon the stimulation of the heart.

Achieving platform mastery is about ensuring a wonderfully balanced blend of emotional and rational engagement and this is the way to approach and speak about a sensitive subject.

Researchers have found that most decision-making is driven by our emotions. Stories offer a powerful way to engage those emotions and inspire decision-making

Here’s the action point of the day: The next time you are preparing to speak on a sensitive subject, tell a story that allows your audience to see the situation through another set of eyes.

This is the subtle art of speaking about sensitive subjects.

About the author: Eugene Moreau

Eugene Moreau is a Certified Master Coach, Author and Corporate Consultant with over 30 years experience. He is a Master Presenter and developer of the 13 Box Presentation System and The EPIC Presenters Masters of Influence programs.

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