Humour: Foot in Mouth Disease

Foot In Mouth Disease…

What a bizarre English idiom: to put your foot in your mouth. Aside from this being physically impossible for me since the age of 6 months (I’m just not that flexible), it really is a strange phrase, isn’t it? That’s beside the point. The point is, I am a Master at the art. It means to say something offensive or embarrassing… and I’m a natural at that! No effort required!

In the UK Market, Nestlé have broadened their range of KitKat chocolate bars. I’m sure it’s the same the World over. One of the new ones is a ‘KitKat Chunky’. Great, delicious chunks of chocolate. Want some?

I bought some. Knowing how much my friend loves chocolate, I said to her, “Would you like a KitKat Chunky?”

Her response was, “Would you like a slap?”

There was a pause.

On reflection, I realised she thought I was calling her “Chunky”!

Fortunately, we both laughed and saw the funny side of me putting my foot in my mouth. It did, however, remind me of a great principle: “The meaning of your communication is the response you get.” This saying from Linguistics suggests that your intention really doesn’t count for much in the game we call ‘communication’. If someone misreads what you mean (and who hasn’t been misunderstood?), then it’s up to you to change your communication…

…until you get the response you want or intend.

This simple principle has saved me all manner of anxiety and effort over trying to justify what I intended to mean. When the communication doesn’t ‘work’ – I simply look for another way to make my point and let go of the guilt. This can be easily softened by, “I didn’t put that very well; what I meant to say was…”

Have you ever said anything embarrassing, though completely innocently?  I’d love to hear… we all would!



It’s an interesting phrase in English, “Let’s just sense-check that…” But what does it mean? Well it means to check out the data, the numbers, the facts to see if they add up and make logical sense. It’s a great manifestation of Mathematical-Logical Intelligence.

But I’m a Creative. I like to find new meanings – or even make new meanings.

You see (and hear and feel and taste and smell) we all use our senses to check out if something ‘makes sense’ to us. It’s more than just logic, it’s sensory. Empirical data judged through the senses.

This is a fundamental principle of my approach to Accelerating Learning. The more senses one layers to make a point, the faster that point gets across to the learner, and the more ‘sense’ it makes. Many traditional communicators rely on one-sense-only to make a point. If the audience doesn’t prefer that specific sensory channel, there can be a mis-match and a danger of communicating ‘non-sense’.

So, in Accelerating Learning, I encourage the trainers, teachers and communication professionals I work with to ‘GO VHF’ – to help every target group ‘tune into’ their broadcast.

In radio language, do you know what ‘VHF’ stands for?

‘VHF’ stands for ‘Very High Frequency’. You can have a ‘Very High Frequency’ of success in engaging your audience if you layer another VHF, the VHF of ‘Vision’, ‘Hearing’, and ‘Feeling’ (in the physical and emotional senses.) The ‘GO’ stands for ‘Gustatory’ (sense of taste) and ‘Olfactory’ (sense of smell). I have a few programmes that use scent and taste to make the learning point, but usually I layer just Vision, Hearing and Feeling. Those three strands, woven together, are not easily resisted!

What then if we were to reframe ‘Sense-Check’ to mean the physical senses? To sense-check our information, a client would literally check in with their senses to see/hear/feel if our message was congruent, consistent and convincing.

For marketing professionals or anyone with an important message, this then becomes a great strategy for influencing with integrity. You would answer three questions:

  • How can I present this message in a visually compelling way to my target group?
  • How can I enrich the sound component so that it is sonically alluring?
  • What can they touch and physically interact with to convince them of the quality of my offering?

Isn’t this why top brands choose known vocal talents to sell their product? Isn’t this why we have visual celebrity endorsements of products or services? Isn’t this why some stores have the invitation to ‘please touch’ on some soft furnishings?

If you want to pass the ‘Sense-Check’ – check out the ways your message makes sense!!!