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If I hear xxx one more time, I'll...


frustrated young woman
Frustration

Have you ever heard yourself saying, “If I hear THAT WORD one more time, I’ll…..” feel free to finish the sentence with your preferred ending :-) I’d like to think you might say ‘roll your eyes’ or ‘scream’ but for some of you, your feelings might run a little deeper and need more expressive vocabulary!


Here’s our version of BUSINESS BINGO if you and your team want to investigate your language and how it might affect each other.


Remember, simple activities like these are an opportunity to talk about important issues in a different (and easy) way. These conversations are key to building openness and trust.


Do you ever think about your own language?


If you did, would there be anything you say that grates on others?


I know, for example, that every time I say, “Oo, I have an idea...” or “What about…” it exasperates those closest to me. They just hear it way too often, and it invariably involves extra work for everyone involved (or money, as my husband might say, for redecorating the laundry.... but I digress. That's a whole other story!!).


I have to work hard to stop myself (particularly when excited). It’s just a habit I’ve developed over time and is usually accompanied by my jumping up and down on my seat or waving my arms. No doubt some of you might be giggling now as you’ve seen (and heard) me do it.

The problem with these habits is that when overused, you send a trigger to others that can frustrate them and close their minds. That’s the thing about language. It has colossal power.


Like a magnet, language can either attract or repel.


Now assuming you want to attract people, then read on!


The peril of the next new shiny object


We see a danger in organisations that we feel duty-bound to alert you to. Organisations grab at the latest trend and then get lost in the hype. For a select few people, they get chosen for the project. They become entangled in its heady mix of possibility. They fall in love with it.

Then, they begin to start talking about it. When others don’t share their enthusiasm, they start to become more forceful in a way that irritates rather than inspires. When people are inspired, they develop their own internal drive that connects what they WANT to do with action. This is at the heart of developing accountability.


What is often forgotten by project leads (in their enthusiasm) is that this exciting new thing impacts others. These ‘others’ don’t have the depth of understanding they have, nor do they have the time to digest what little information they do have.


Communication is vital for the success of any new thing… from a learning solution to a big new system. Now, we know that you know this. We raise it because in almost every organisation we work in, we see this challenge play out repeatedly, and for each ‘initiative’, the problem becomes more entrenched as people expect the worst.

If you don't get this right, you’re missing a trick, and people end up working against you.

It's like PIVOT during lockdown. "We need to PIVOT", "We have to pivot..." "We've got to pivot..." Need we say more?


Are you focusing on necessity or desire?


When you focus on NECESSITY as a modal operator (need to, must do, have to etc.), you create an intensity that can feel FORCED, you are pushing people, and people resist the lack of control.

Whereas if the messaging was more like "Wouldn't it be amazing if there was another way we could XYZ (in other words pivot )" "Imagine what it would be like IF....we COULD."


Powerful words


IF & COULD are incredibly powerful words because they aren't CONTROLLING. They offer CHOICE, and they help conjure DESIRE (WANT). When you combine these with painting a picture of a brighter outcome, you might be pleasantly surprised by the change in outcome. By engaging people in a discussion and positively influencing them (rather than informing them), you help them build a connection. That connection drives accountability. No one likes to be told what to do, but when you encourage ideas and responsibility in a positive way - magic happens.


Feeling the pinch?


Many organisations right now are feeling the pinch. People within these organisations will have an underlying feeling of concern or anxiety about the future. This means people will be more finely attuned to the nuances of language as they search for clues. IF you focus on your language as a leader, what exciting surprises do you think you COULD experience?


Action


So check in with the buzzwords and ensure your team isn’t rolling their eyes at your language.


Engage your team in the challenges you face by asking for ideas, posing possibilities and using your language as a force for change rather than entrenchment.

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