Watching the Platinum Jubilee celebrations over the past few days a phrase used by one of the commentators stood out to me. It went something like ‘nothing happens by accident with these events.’ The Queen had a hand in all the arrangements because every act, positioning, and particularly word has the weight and the power of the crown behind it. This attention to the detail is necessary because we all underestimate the power of our words.
Can you think of any times you have said things you wish you hadn’t?
During the Second World War posters were put up saying repeatedly that careless talk costs lives. As leaders or team members you must remember your words have impact. Particularly if you are the leader, your words set the course for the team or organisation. Careless words, spoken in a careless way, can lead to painful consequences for you and the organisation.
The writer of this proverb got it right when they said:
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” Proverbs 18v21
In the words you say you can inspire, encourage, envision, or tear-down, belittle, and embarrass. When you have something crucial to say to someone how you communicate it underlines what you think of the person in front of you.
What would you like to say? When people meet you today will they be glad they met you?
Leaders create the culture of the team by the words they say and the actions they take. Creating an environment where your team is going to bring their best requires you as leader to be very intentional and thought through in what you say.
As our Prime Minister is realising, the words you say can come back to bite you.
The organisation I worked for recently was one where I was promoted to CEO from the existing leadership. The big shift was realising that, although I may be saying the same words I said as a manager, now those words had the weight of my new position or authority behind them. It altered their impact.
“If you are a leader, you should never forget that everyone needs encouragement. And everyone who receives it – young or old, successful or less-than-successful, unknown or famous – is changed by it.” John Maxwell
Think before you speak
- Choose your words carefully – the greater your authority the greater your responsibility to be intentional about what you say.
- Not everyone hears the same words you say. Think about who you are speaking to and tailor your communication so they can understand your intent.
- Be clear – do those you are speaking to understand what you are asking or telling them?
- Put yourself in the receiver’s shoes and ask a trusted colleague to listen to what you are going to say particularly if it is a crucial conversation.
- Remember trust is linked to the words you use to promise what you will do. Don’t promise on what you can’t deliver.
- Speak to yourself like someone you love.
With our tongues we have the power to build up or to tear down, to enable someone to grow or unwittingly stunt their progress. What do you want the power of your words to be?
Have a great day and use your words wisely.