Conveying The Right Message: The Power of Words

Politicians and political commentators often begin their sentences with the words, “look” or “listen.”   Is their intent to demand that listeners pay attention, or simply to catch the listeners’ attention?    In either case, words have the power to Woman and men at meeting - speakingevoke reactions according to their intended, or sometimes unintended, use.

Let’s consider what this means in relation to business or team leaders who aim to create a productive and amiable environment among their team-members.

The connotation of words such as “look” and “listen,” implies a command or an order, particularly when used at the beginning of a sentence; in which case, you as the speaker must decide if your intent is to persuade or simply draw attention to a topic.   Similarly, the words “must” and “should” can also convey a demanding tone within certain contexts.

A more persuasive, and verbally palatable route, is to provide your listener with a request using non command-oriented language, and adding a reason for honoring the request.

For example…

Instead of:                  “You must complete your work before your deadline is due.

Try stating:                  “Please make all effort to complete your work on or before the deadline” [and you may add] “so that our department can remain on schedule and we may move on to the next project in a timely manner.”

The premise is that people are more apt to willingly and enthusiastically comply with requests when they understand the logic, reasoning, and sometimes even consequences, behind a request that they doWoman speaking into headpiece mic not perceive as a demand. 

To inspire positivity within your communications, another word to consider omitting is “fail” or “failure”.   We can draw upon the story of Thomas Edison stating he had not failed, but instead found thousands of ways not to create the light bulb.  Within this rationale, we aim to succeed, not simply avoid failure.

Of course, the aforementioned words are still appropriate and necessary in many contexts of text and speech, however, for this purpose, we are examining the context of persuasive language in a professional setting.  Yet, your choice to include or omit specific words gives you the opportunity to educate, inspire, and earn the respect of others.  Your choice to make a small change can make a profound positive impact on the goal you wish to reach.  In turn, profound positive impact is a sign of true leadership!


By Fred Coon, CEO


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