How to communicate effectively – an example from the Bhagavad-gita

Suppose we are guiding someone about how to take a complicated treatment that involves various medicines at various times. In one sense, every step of that guidance is important, but some things may be especially important.

For example, a particular medicine may have a dangerous side effect if not taken with another medicine. We know how important taking the medicines together is, but they don’t. They may neglect or forget it, thereby courting unnecessary distress. To prevent that, we need to explain why that particular guideline is important.

When we give people some important knowledge, we need to also explain why that knowledge is important – that is, how learning and applying that knowledge will help them immensely and how failing to do so will hurt them terribly.

In public speaking, expert speakers use such priming to increase their audience’s receptivity to and retention of important points.

Krishna as God is expert at everything, including speaking. He repeatedly stresses the importance of what he is about to speak in the Bhagavad-gita, for example, at the start of the seventh chapter (07.01-03), the ninth chapter (09.01-03), the tenth chapter (10.01), the fourteenth chapter (14.01-02) and towards the Gita’s end (18.64), just before its concluding verses (18.65-66).

Let’s consider the fourteenth chapter which analytically overviews the three modes of material nature. Krishna conveys the subject’s importance by connecting it with Arjuna’s core concern: will he be bound in karma by fighting the war? Krishna begins by declaring that great sages have freed themselves from entanglement and attained life’s perfection by applying this knowledge (14.01), thereby ensuring that Arjuna’s attention is retained, even heightened.

Similarly, when we share any wisdom with others, we need to first stress its importance and relevance, thereby increasing the likelihood of it being appreciated, assimilated and applied.


Think it over:

  • Why do we need to explain the importance of important knowledge?
  • How does priming increase the effectiveness of public speaking?
  • How does Krishna demonstrate priming in the Gita?

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1 Comment

  1. JAPA is the best talk with GOD

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