Add muscle to your words

Lean language lends authority

by on
in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

You may think that you are a good manager, but you’ll sabotage your success if you don’t talk like a leader. By overdosing on qualifiers, inserting lots of needless filler phrases and giving wimpy opinions, you’ll lose chances to earn the respect of your employees and bosses.

Stop speaking the language of weakness by adopting these tips:

Cut the constant “I.” Only begin a sentence with “I” if you’re talking about yourself. That sounds obvious, but it’s a rule that’s rarely followed.

As a test, describe a work-related challenge. If you say, “I’m concerned that my assistant lacks certain skills” or “I have a problem with the tech support manager who doesn’t organize time well,” you’re off to a bad start. It’s better to say, “My assistant lacks certain skills” or “The tech support manager doesn’t organize time well.”

Starting with “I” undermines your power because you imply that whatever faults you describe are your problem, not theirs. You should not be the subject of the sentence. Beginning with “I” sounds as if you’re going to talk about yourself, when in fact your point has nothing to do with you.

Turn vague feelings into concrete points. When asked for your views, come right out and say what you mean. Avoid fuzzy language that’s ambiguous or meaningless. Don’t habitually hedge your bets; talk tough.

For example, if the CEO asks you for your opinion about a business deal, don’t say, “I feel it was a winner” or “I really like how we handled it.” Instead, make a specific observation: “It worked because we negotiated several key concessions” or “We won by forcing their hand.”

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