Thursday, June 4, 2015

Words Matter: Three Words Not To Use in Leadership and Life


From the moment we utter our first words as babies to the first impressions we leave when meeting someone for the first time. Words matter. With over a million words in the English language, word choice can make or break relationships.

In my experience there are three words I have worked hard to banish from my own language. It took time and focus. And it's made me a better leader, wife and parent.

Starting today, here are three words to never utter again and the three words to replace them with.

  1. "But"... negates everything you say before it. Replace 'but' with 'and.' I learned this from an incredibly intense workshop from the leaders at Breakthrough Thinking and vividly remember the example. "I love you but..." versus, "I love you and.. " Using 'and' softens the response. It actually makes you pause and think about what you want to say.
  2. "I"... there is no 'i' in team. Replace 'I' with 'we.' Underscored via a live performance from John Legend, "Collaborate. I'm under no illusion I can do all of this on my own." It's cringe worthy when you hear "I did this" or "I thought of this" or "I built this." This goes for personal relationships as well.
  3. "@!#$"... or any other four letter word. Replace it with silence. Leaders don't curse. Dictators curse. Using expletives for emphasis only makes you look like an idiot. Using expletives to show you're in charge? You've just thrown loyalty, respect and collaboration out the door. A long pregnant pause is much more effective.

If you find your inside voice saying,

"@!#$, Tia! I admire this utopian view on word choice but I've used these words my entire life. Trying to change my habits while I run a multi-billion dollar company where I deliver results 24/7 is going to be challenging." Try this version...

"[pause]...Tia, I admire this utopian view on word choice and I've used these words my entire life. Trying to change my habits while we run a multi-billion dollar company where we deliver results 24/7 is going to be challenging."

Sounds a bit more like collaboration and openness, doesn't it?

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