Mind your language!

| 27 August 2021

I love the nuances of language.

In fact, languages were the only thing that really interested me at school.

And it wasn’t just because my French teacher was rather handsome (can I say that? Probably not but I’m saying it anyway. Language, eh?!).

I love how one or two words can make a difference to our messages and how they’re received.

‘That piece of work is not good enough’ diminishes the listener whereas ‘I would like to help you make this piece of work even better’ lifts her up.

I find it fascinating that what is unspoken is sometimes more telling than what is spoken. The elephant is there but nobody quite knows how to approach it – often because they can’t find the right words or fear the impact of those words. (Much of my work with teams helps them with this). 🐘

When I first trained as a coach back in 2001, I learned how much I was ‘interpreting’ rather than really listening to what the other person was saying; putting my own assumptions or beliefs into the conversation when they weren’t needed. (My misguided attempt at trying to be helpful).

When I did my WBECS Enhanced Conversational Intelligence® (the neuroscience of conversations) training a few years ago, we were introduced to the idea of Conversational Cocktails (thank you to another coach Rhonda York for coming up with the idea).

Our words can generate lots of oxytocin – helping others to feel connected, trusted and safe – a delightful cocktail on a sunny day that makes us feel great.

Or they can create cortisol – sending others into fight, flight, freeze or appease behaviour – more poison than cocktail.

As a leader your language can motivate or demoralise, get traction or generate confusion, p**s people off or inspire them.

The question is – do you know the difference?

P.S. One of the areas we focus on in my Lead with Confidence programme is language – how to make yours impactful. How to connect. How to build trust. How to run brilliant meetings. How to demonstrate clarity of purpose. And more. Words create worlds. Make yours count for all the right reasons