The words you use make all the difference

January 12, 2023

The words you use make all the difference

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”—John Keating

Our words have an impact. Especially for leaders, business owners, entrepreneurs, and people in a position of power and influence, what we say and when, where, and how we say it carries a lot of weight. The higher up on the ladder you are, the more important it is to learn how to communicate effectively as a leader.

Also outside of interpersonal communication, words have great power. The words we choose to tell ourselves every day, in our thoughts and internal dialogues, have a lot of influence on the way we think, speak, and act. Words have the power to shape—and distort—our individual and shared realities.

Think about it. You probably still remember some careless remarks made to you by the people you look up to (your parents, teachers, peers, etc.) when you were a child. These words have probably been ingrained in your psyche and have become part of your internal dialogue, and they have probably had a significant impact on the person you are today.

And I am sure you also have several moments when you truly regret what you say after you say it. Everyone does.

Yes, we are all familiar with the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” We have a choice to not let what other people say have power over us. But that isn’t what I want to focus on. What I want to dive deep into is this: How do you communicate? As a leader, with the privilege of your position, is the language you choose building people up or tearing them down?

You may be able to brush off what other people say about you, but not everyone you talk to is capable of doing that. And as a leader, it is your responsibility to make sure the people within your influence get the right message whenever you speak. Take ownership of the way you communicate with other people.

How can we communicate better as leaders?

Take some time to reflect on your dialogue over the past few years. Every change and growth starts with awareness, which necessitates a certain amount of sincere introspection and scrutiny. 

  1. Know your audience

The language you choose changes depending on the audience you are talking to. You don’t use jargon for lay people, otherwise, you aren’t communicating with them in a way that they understand. You might need to simplify the way you communicate to make sure they understand what it is you are trying to say.

If you want to communicate effectively, use language that is appropriate to your audience.

  1. Speak the truth

Humans have the tendency to prefer listening to what they want to say. However, honesty, sincerity, and integrity are crucial for building trust. As leaders, you want to build trust. It isn’t something you can demand but has to be earned, and you earn it by telling the truth, even when there are hard truths to speak.

  1. Be kind

Empathy goes a long way toward effective communication. Choosing to be kind and showing genuine care for the people on the other end of the conversation allows them to open up to what you have to say and helps them receive it better. Leaders who choose their egos as the main driver of their language tend to have an audience that is unwilling to listen, simply because they feel unheard or uncared for.

  1. Listen

Communication is always a give-and-take. You need to learn when to listen and how to listen effectively. The more you listen to others, the better you can choose your words to get the right message across. Being open to feedback also helps you be aware of your communication style and how you can do better. And when ideas are exchanged in a natural and respectful way, creativity and collaboration thrive.

  1. Let go of control

When leading a team, it is often hard for leaders to let go of control, especially in business. We all crave autonomy in our goals and decisions. However, you have to remember that you enlisted these people to help you because you know one person (i.e., you) isn’t enough to keep an endeavor, whether business or personal, running smoothly.

Communicate your goals and intentions, but let your people be an active part of the process. They might have ideas you never even thought of or perspectives you never even considered that could help you get where you want to go faster.

One last friendly reminder…

These tips apply to conversations in the office or with personal relationships, but they can also apply to your internal dialogues. 

Know who you are and what words you need to hear to inspire growth and change. 

Speak the truth, even when it is hard, and face it head-on. 

Be kind with your words to yourself, learn to listen, and watch how the changes in the words you use to speak to yourself impact you.  

And learn to let go of control, because we can’t always control everything. We can only change what is within our influence to change, and that is more than enough.

Try and change the language you use when communicating with yourself and with others, and watch how it changes things. It might surprise you.

Thanks for reading “A Brilliant Tribe.”