Words Matter

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We all know the difference between a good presenter and one less skilled. We have all sat through a speech that never got off the ground, and we spent a great deal of energy wondering what the point was – BUT – have you ever sat spell bound by a great orator? Listened to a speech that touched you right to the very core of your being? I have, and early on in my life, and it is the main reason I enjoy words, presenting and making important points passionately. Words matter, and the same way that a presenter can grab the attention of an audience of 2000, we have the capacity to motivate, encourage and inspire in our workplace. It all comes back to the words you use – believe me – words matter.

Words MatterA number of weeks ago I was thinking back to a conversation I had a few years ago with a young employee. We were having trouble with a public facing process that was generating a great deal of negative feedback through our service desk, as well as on social media. I asked for a meeting with the key players to brainstorm a solution. What I heard from those around the table was frustration, and so I offered a fresh opinion. This young man looked at me and said “everyone knows that will never work!”

Well not everyone knew that, and we tried the option and it worked well enough to reduce the noise and gave us time to find a more permanent solution. Later that day the same fellow came to my office and sheepishly said “there are just some things you shouldn’t say at work.” That same young man went on to be a key performer for me, and someone I counted on for much of the heavy lifting. It is true, there are just some things you don’t say at work – consider 3:

I’m Too Busy

Busy is the reality of today’s work environment, but even if you are too busy, no one wants to feel second class or less important than someone or something else. Instead of I’m too busy what about – “I can’t at this very moment but could find some time later today” Words matter and the effort to accommodate will be appreciated.

This may be a silly suggestion

Leaders today are looking for fresh thinking and fresh ideas, but equally important is the conviction of those putting forward those fresh thoughts! It takes courage to walk up to a microphone and ask a question, or to offer a suggestion in front of senior management. Don’t dilute the creativity and freshness of your ideas by suggesting they might be silly. If you think it may be silly don’t stand up!

It is not fair

They were given the new job, new project or raise. It is just not fair. It never helps to sound sour, defensive or jaded. Rather, shake it off and build your case. The point is replacing what may sound as sour grapes with a proactive conviction to turn the troubling situation around, and make those who have the ability to change things, to see your value and respond accordingly.

You may not be standing in front of 2000 conference attendees, but you can inspire and motivate with the words you use. Your team will notice, your boss will notice – those around you will notice – words matter.

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After 20 years of progressive leadership within the Canadian Public Service, as an executive and thought leader, Bruce has turned his attention to full time writing, speaking, training and business advisory services. Focusing his work on his long term passion for leadership development, has led to an ongoing focus on exploring current leadership topics through his leadership blog TheModernLeader.ca, and his newly released book - Leadership Hack: Leading the Millennial Tribe. Bruce holds two masters degrees, along with a professional designation in project management. Bruce calls Ottawa, Ontario Canada home, where he shares his life with his wife Susan, and his two university aged daughters.

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