The Words We Choose Matter

The words we choose have a powerful effect on other people at the best of times, so imagine how vital they are today! Words can trigger, words can soothe, words can signal togetherness, words can shift perspectives.

So, let’s use our words wisely.  Here are some ideas.

During these unprecedented times, it may be easy to start your sentences with phrases like these:

  • The problem is….
  • The issue is…
  • The challenge is…
  • Yes, but…
  • I don’t think…
  • What concerns me is…
  • We won’t….
  • You don’t understand….

What if you shifted your language to start with these instead?  

  • The opportunity here is/might be…
  • What I would like to see in the future is…
  • To solve this, we could….
  • What we do have is…
  • One way to approach this is…
  • Yes, and….
  • Another option we can explore is…
  • We could do…
  • What we can do is….
  • What I/we know is…so let’s…
  • What I/we do not know is…so let’s…
  • What I/we need is to….

What else can we be saying to one another?  

  • I am grateful for you, your expertise, your commitment.
  • You are important.
  • You can say no.
  • I know you did your best.
  • Let’s celebrate what we have done so far.
  • Thank you!
  • I hear you and appreciate/value/like your perspective.
  • You are making a difference.
  • What you did was awesome.
  • You are a great part of this team.
  • It’s a difficult time and it makes sense that you feel what you do.

What questions we can be asking?

  • What could we do together?
  • How can leverage and merge our strengths?
  • What can we do for our clients? our teams? our leaders? our families? our communities
  • What is the very next thing we can do that is within our control?
  • What is your current situation, and how are you feeling about it?
  • What are you currently doing to sustain yourself?
  • What do you need?
  • How can I help?
  • What else can we do for each other?
  • What else might be true here?

What else can we be doing as leaders?

  • Let employees find answers to the dilemmas confronting them or the business
  • Create forums for employees to participate in problem-solving.
  • Remove barriers that could inhibit impact.
  • Reaffirm your mission and values giving people a reason to believe in you and your company.
  • Review your mission and values if your current ones aren’t aligning with the decisions you are making or guidance you are giving or taking.
  • Only promise what you 100% deliver.
  • Be open and honest about the challenges you face.
  • Follow-through with commitments.

Some great resources: