The Beauty of Eloquence

Last evening at a dinner party, a friend suggested I check out Obama’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech. Having now watched it, I am struck again by the power of president Obama’s eloquence. More than a pretty turn of phrase, eloquence is such an important tool to opening us to possibility. The Oxford Encyclopedic English Dictionary defines it as “fluent and effective use of language.” The effective use of language allows us to articulate, to define perspectives, and to communicate without judgement. In college I read a lot of the romantic authors and can remember that for them, nature presented a beauty beyond words. But I find it sad to give up on words to really express ourselves. To me, communication is at the heart of being ourselves, building relationships, and finding intimacy. It is key to the evolution in relationships between individuals, groups, and for Obama, countries.

What often gets in the way of good communication is the voices of others — parents, teachers, bosses, media, who inadvertently clip our wings. It can be tough to express ourselves openly when we are afraid of being judged or are afraid that our words might have an unintended impact. In coaching, articulation, listening, effective definitions of perspectives, and open communication are key to individuals’ forward movement. When someone feels truly heard, it turns out that they have the resources to answer their own challenges. And when, as with president Obama, a person’s eloquence truly opens up discourse, the possibilities are endless.

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