Good leaders must be precise and accurate in their language. People follow what leaders say and a single misspoken word here or there determine understanding misunderstanding for your audience.
Listening to a radio show yesterday about the financial markets this week reminded me of my top three misspoken phrases:
- But: I think most of us know that “but” is a negation. Whatever was said ahead of the word is discounted by what is said afterwards. “Susan, I like your thinking about how we can address that problem, but I think there is a fatal flaw to your idea”. Instead use the word “and” which creates a more inclusive aspect to your message and does not trash the first half of the point you want to make. “Susan, I like your idea and I think that while it has merit there are some other points we should look at in addressing this issue.”
- The Reality is: This is the expression I heard yesterday that got me thinking about this post. The fellow on the radio was describing how the “reality of the crisis is completely related to too much spending in Washington” When I hear this expression, I find it an immediate turnoff and think that perhaps there are multiple realities to any one situation (maybe it was the S&P downgrade, or that projection of future earnings did not match stock prices, or a myriad of other explanations) and who are you that you know the actual reality!
- You Have to Understand: This is one of my favorites or perhaps I should say least favorites. “No really, I don’t have to understand” is my internal response to myself. The speaker does not communicate his message to me by insisting that I understand his point of view. As a leader, your job is to communicate effectively and thinking you can make adults listen to you because you say so is ineffective and quite frankly insulting. “The information I want to share with you is…” can be a better approach and then make sure you provide opportunities to your listeners to ask you questions.
One of my mentors, Alan Weiss says that “Language controls the conversation, conversation control the relationship and the relationship controls the business” Pay attention to these words and phrases and you may find yourself in better control of your business and life