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“Use Your Words Wisely”​ is so…Wise

How you say what you say is extremely important. I don’t know of many people who would argue that point.

In the workplace it is important in order to create clarity, avoid miscommunication, establish boundaries or expectations, demonstrate respect, show curiosity or concern, shape engagement, focus attention, indicate significance, etc…

Hollaaaa! Those are some super rad benefits.

And yet many people go throughout the work day without taking the time to choose HOW to say WHAT they say. Colleagues and Leaders make exchanges without considering the benefits or repercussions that might result later.

There are many reasons for this, I am sure you have yours. And that statement is not a judgement, it’s just an observation. I do it sometimes too…

But here’s the crux for Leaders and Team members alike – all the benefits I listed above get lost if you choose not to be intentional with how you say what you say. It turns into a lot of Elephants. Some of their names are “discouraged,” “failing,” “angry,” “confused,” “frustrated,” and “grudge.” I can smell the issues in the boardroom from here!

So here’s a few things to keep in mind for WHAT you say and HOW you say it:

  1. Do you make a request or an order?
  2. Do you propose an idea or demand it?
  3. Do you end your sentence as a question or statement? (does your voice go up or stay flat at the end).
  4. Where do you pause in your sentences?
  5. When do you use “and” versus “but”?

Here’s a case example:

A client of mine who is a project manager was having issues with her team delivering a certain standard of work in the timelines she expected. And this was creating a bunch of frustration and repeat work for the leader, as well as feelings of confusion and defeat for the team members. We discovered a gap in perspective and expectations due to what was said and how it was said. She needed to be more clear about what “due by” meant (what it meant to the project manager was something different than what it meant to her team). In this case “due by” to the Leader meant finished and deliverable (only minor tweaks needed, if any). Her team was under a different impression and producing deliverables at all kinds of stages on the “due by” dates.

So we became more structured around what she says. What exactly is due on that date? (in what condition). Differentiate “due by” (a draft in a designated condition) versus “delivery by” dates (which is when it gets sent to the client). How she says something is determined by the level of urgency for the particular part of the project.

This seems like a simple solution – and it often is. But until you know what the underlying problem actually is, the pains of the issue do not feel simple. Paying this much attention to what you say and how you say it takes practice and patience. And it totally pays off in the end.

Here’s another case example for ya:

What example comes to mind if you think about a positive or negative result that came from a HOW you say WHAT you say situation?


If you want more strategies on this topic, I cover the common dysfunctions of a growing organization and how leaders can shape high-performing teams accessed here.

Or you can scheduled an intro call here (free of selling, full of in-depth advice).


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