In Leadership, We Are Still Doing Phrasing

If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then words are the doorway to the mind. Words carry weight. They can inspire greatness or squash hope. Your words can build someone up or tear them down.

But with so many words to choose from, how can one know which ones to use?

  • Avoid contractions — Words like “can’t,” “wouldn’t,” and “shouldn’t” are all rooted in the word, “not.” That’s a negative word. Words like these can give the impression that failure is expected.
  • Don’t be wishy-washy — A sentence like, “Maybe we can do that,” leaves the listener hanging. “Maybe” and “If” give no definite direction. Instead, present an attainable touchstone, such as, “When healthcare department such as Nursing finishes their research, we can look at getting that accomplished.”
  • Definitely avoid “Probably” — “Probably” is a teeter-totter word; it could go either way. That leaves the listener wondering which side things are going to land on. You either know the answer or you don’t. If you don’t know, admit it. It’s always best to tell the truth.
  • Exercise empathy — Put yourself in the listener’s position. How would you like to hear things? What kind of information do you need? What kind of impression are you leaving on the listener?
  • Language is medicinal — The words you choose can either aggravate or solve a situation. Be gentle without obscuring the truth.
  • Use your inside voice — Even when someone is trying to push your buttons, don’t overreact. Remain calm. Remember your manners. You will prevent yourself from saying something you could regret later.

People may forget what you say, but they will always remember the way you say it. Don’t be afraid to elicit feedback about your communication style. The way you speak affects how you are seen by others, so choose your words and your delivery with care.


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