Choose the Right Words

choose the right wordsAs Mark Twain once put it, “The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” In other words, what you say matters. So as a leader, you’re tasked daily with choosing the right words to communicate on matters big and small as well as serious and trite. Pick what you say, and how you say it, carefully, making sure that what you do truly reflects your professional goals and the values that define you.

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That said, the trick to talking to others — particularly when it comes to business matters — is to be both compelling and clear about what you say and even how it aligns with your values and your vision. When you’re compelling and clear, you’ll be more likely to…

  • Inspire your team. When people understand exactly what you want and hear your consistent, genuine passion, they’ll believe you and then be far more likely to not just get behind your vision but be excited and motivated about it, too. To keep your communication genuine, always choose words that you would honestly say, and your authenticity will show.
  • Give your vision life. When you’re just ad-libbing about some goal, dream or vision, what you say usually lacks legs. It shows you’ve not really thought carefully about it, how to go about achieving it, and who will play a role in it. Being specific about the who, what, where and when of the vision transforms it from a wish into a more viable, concrete idea that, with the buy-in, can take form and be acted upon by your team. Using the right words and language is a planning tactic for accurately illustrating your vision and goals aligned to it. It’s also a smart way to eliminate error, ambiguity or misunderstanding.
  • Create energy in the workplace. And everyone needs that positive energy whenever possible! Pick words that fuel action, lift spirits and make people feel competent. Such “can do” words can seemingly work miracles. They can build trust, demonstrate honesty, instigate action, clarify meanings, strengthen teams, express kindness and reflect empathy. Positive words and expressions will always move people more quickly toward where they need to go.

When you consistently discipline yourself to choose the right words, over time, this practice feels less forced and more like a good habit — even second nature. Such communication is really an art, and as with all artists and their works, there’s always a learning curve and loads of practice involved. But the end result can be a masterpiece in terms of managing your communication effectively and excelling at achieving your vision.

What are some good examples of how choosing the right words has impacted or influenced others?

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