Even a small word such as yes can make a difference in someone’s life when it is stated at the right time and to the correct person. Consider the last time you expressed this word, and what the context of using it was. Now that you have hindsight on having said “yes”, was this the optimal word to have chosen? Or, would you have rather expressed another word?
It’s not always easy to cobble together words that will have a positive impact, and some people are clearly better at doing this than others. Does it take practice to be able to do this? For most people it does, but there are people who have the ability to be both articulate, succinct
and expressive in a way that will the majority of time have a positive impact based on what they have expressed. I’m sure you also can name someone who does this well.
We don’t always have the chance to practice stating something that will have a positive impact on someone, and even when we have an opportunity to write and then convey our message, it might not achieve its intended purpose. Although the chances of it doing so in writing might be slightly higher because of the reality that you can edit your message, we know there are no guarantees. Which is exactly why choosing the right word or words and stating them to others can be so difficult. Yet, having the ability to do so is certainly worth striving to achieve.
When the right words are conveyed to either another person or a group, it’s always interesting to learn post the message delivery about the variety of impacts and interpretations the listeners had. About half of the listeners will be in agreement with what they heard, while the remaining half will have varying degrees of either taking action on, needing more time to digest the information or potentially not have any impact on them.
When people in a group setting are hearing words expressed to them that are intended to have a positive impact, and the impact doesn’t affect them the way the speaker thought it would, places both the message conveyer and listeners into an interesting place. One that isn’t always ideal, yet provides an opportunity to also dissect what went wrong with the message delivery.
A recent conversation I was having with a leader related to actually not leveraging an opportunity to have the power of their words impact their team. Instead of conveying upfront what they intended the outcome of a situation to be, they opted not to express what they anticipated the results would be. So, the outcome which resulted was highly disappointing to the team, but the leader was in a neutral state, and this caused unintended consequences.
Upon having a post-mortem conversation with this leader about their decision not to leverage words to inspire or express their intentions to the team about how they were perceiving the outcome of the opportunity the team was involved with, was what I refer to as an “ahh-ha” moment. The fact of the matter is that there was a missed opportunity to state up front how the leader would have leveraged the power of expressing what they were thinking, and it was completely different than how the team was thinking and reacted without any explanation. Given this scenario, this is what I refer to as a perfect “course correction” situation. One that provided the chance to leverage the power of words to do so, yet didn’t occur.
At this moment in time, there isn’t closure on the example noted, but there is a next step. The next step is to have a conversation with the leader about how to fully appreciate and apply the power of words to both their own and their teams benefit. Will the initial time they do this have the intended impact they are expecting? I believe it will, and yes, it will take them practice to become better at doing this. However, it’s exactly what they need to do as a leader, and their team also needs them to do. In fact, the team expects this from their leader, and it is an enormous missed opportunity when this doesn’t happen.
If you are a leader or sports team coach or someone who hasn’t been benefitting from the practice of choosing words that matter, below are some suggestions to get you started.
- Consider what words inspire you. Write them down, and begin practicing using them in sentences on a one-on-one basis with people you regularly interact with.
- Do some research and listen and read about others who are inspirational speakers.
- Pay closer attention during conversations to appreciate who is having a positive impact on you based on how they are conveying their message to you.
- Words can be like weapons, and have unintended negative consequences. So, make sure that the words you choose are meant to be supportive and not punitive.
- Work on finding your communication style and comfort zone when it is time to convey your words to others. You don’t have to imitate others styles, as it will be both hard to do, and isn’t likely your natural communication style.
- Always think about what the intended end goal of your communication will be, as sometimes your communication and the words you choose will have different purposes.
- Factor in making sure that your body language is in alignment with what your words are expressing.
- Appreciate and be highly responsible for the words you choose to express to others, as they might have a lifelong impact on them.
I’m excited about the opportunity I have today to see the leader I referenced above, and to have a second chance of helping them to leverage their words. Words that I know they want to positively impact the intended outcome for their team today. Let’s hope the suggestions above are ones that will benefit both you and the team you lead. Or, to have a positive impact on any future conversations you are having with others.
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