Reconsider Some Common Words and Phrases in Your Speech and Writing

Some verbs and phrasings we use when we communicate in business, in leadership roles and generally in our lives can have a subconscious (and maybe even conscious) affect on how people perceive what we say but perhaps even our overall character.

One such verb or phrase is “think” or “I think.”  This is an easy one to get rid of as it is a throw away phrase anyway. When speaking or writing it is somewhat redundant to make the statement; if it were anyone else’s thinking 99% of us would describe who the thinking belonged to. So, there is no need to say it in the first place. But why skip the “I think?” It is because it can come off as the speaker being uncertain or still going over things in their head. Plainly speaking your opinion and why others should consider it sounds stronger both in person and on the page.

“Need” is another word one might consider dropping in their phrasing. It may sound silly but when used by a leader when requesting something from subordinate it makes the leader or the one asking sound like they are dependent on that other person entirely.  If you are scoffing, consider that these are subtle, subconscious cues that don’t work on our active thinking. “Want” works in a similar way. “I want you to improve the quality of your work” versus “Please, improve the quality of your work” or even “Improve the quality of your work.” Notice the subtle difference in tone that shades the meaning of the statement in all three cases.

“Guess” is another one to watch out for—we all want to be heard as confident and sure. Using “guess” in your language does not accomplish that tonal goal. Likewise, “hope” can add a touch of uncertainty. Don’t hope for things, know that they will happen; make things a will to power over your goals, don’t hope.

Consider making some of these changes to your speech pattern and note if it changes the way people see you and your ideas.




Bossy vs Leadership

Lately there has been much talk about calling girls “bossy” when they take initiative and try to take a leadership role. In an article on Huffington Post, there is an interesting article called “Why Girls Get Called Bossy, and How to Avoid It.”

The author, Adam Grant, goes on to talk about Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of Lean In, and her influence of the “Ban Bossy” campaign. He also brings about the idea of how the aspects of power and status are lumped together. He says we react differently when power is excercies by high-status and low-status people. He goes on to say that women get called bossy often because they are trying to exercise power without status. He says we need to teach girls to engage in behaviors that earn admiration before asserting authority.

Read the full article.

~ Jody Victor