Word can destroy motivation – watch your language.

Many of us don’t realize that some words have a very powerful impact on others.

Whether you are communicating with a colleague, friend, or subordinate, your language is very impactful.

Words like No, But, However, Try, and many others will solicit a negative response, leaving you thinking “What did I do?” or “why are they reacting this way”. Many discussions escalate to arguments because of the wrong choice of words. For example;

  • But and However negate everything that came before them. Even if a person¬†starts out saying “I agree.” and even if they¬†repeat what the other person said to show that they’ve been listening, as soon as “But” or “However” is dropped they have basically implied that they disagree, and the person that they were talking to will take offence to that. The other person will even stop listening as soon as they hear the “but” or “however”.
    It is this act of not listening that causes communications to escalate. Pretty soon both people are using these disruptive words to negate the other person’s point of view and present their own. The lack of listening and understanding regardless of who is right or wrong leads to arguments, and conflict. In a workplace environment that disagreement leads to undermined trust and lack of commitment to a single focus.
    Using phrases like “that’s interesting” or just replacing these two words with the word “And” will get the conversation moving in the right direction.
    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and everyone likes to be heard and understood. I am sure you do as well. How do you feel when you think the other person is not listening to your point of view. It was most likely because they either verbalized a “But” or “However” or maybe they just thought that. As soon as this happens it shows up in people’s body language and in what follows.
    It’s ok to accept the other person’s opinion, and then present yours. It’s ok to respect that what is being said is what that person believes to be true and accurate. Even if they are wrong. The only way to get another person to see your point of view is to first accept theirs.
  • Try is another one of those words that implies a high chance of inability to do something. Like “Try to cross the road.” or “try to open the door.” both imply that there is a very good chance that it won’t be possible. In the movie “The Karate Kid” Mr Miyagi says “if you hesitate to cross the road, you squish like grape”. In Star Wars, Yoda training Luke instructs him “Do or do not. There is no try.”
    When people say “I’ll try to …” they are setting themselves up for potential failure. Their¬†precautionary approach to doing something that they feel that they might fail at. It like saying “I’ll just try. And if I fail, well! At least I tried.”
    Better to decide to do something or not.

What other words can you think of that have negative connotations in either your communication with yourself or others?

Share them, so that we may collect these and improve workplace dynamics.

Written by: Nagui Bihelek

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