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In tough times, words matter

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

It may feel like the sky is falling, but if you use emotionally charged words in front of your team members, you will only heighten their fear and panic.

As many people have pointed out, including Warren Buffett, the economic crisis has spawned fear, and that fear is contagious.

Contain the fear by crafting a message that sounds realistic but not hopeless.

Pause before you answer a question
about business. A pause conveys calm, helps you gather your thoughts and gives the impression you’re in control.

Avoid words that fan the flames, such as “disastrous” or “meltdown.” Instead, say “serious” or “challenging” to make your point.

Offer specifics about what people can do now,
rather than what any limitations might be.

Know how to find humor in the situation,
like Buffett, who filled his annual letter to shareholders with tough talk and some levity.

—Adapted from “Cut Out the Doom and Gloom Talk,” John Baldoni, Leadership at Work blog.

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