From Arlene: Why Every Word Counts

From Arlene: Why Every Word Counts

Leadership | Posted by - April 28, 2016 at 12:00 am

Do you often feel like you are speaking another language? Most entrepreneurs do. It's like you are in the Tower of Babel sometimes - employees consistently misinterpreting what the owner of the company says, as in a game of broken telephone. I think it's because we often just spout off our opinions and thoughts without taking the time to truly realize the consequences. It's not that those on the receiving end of our discussions don't understand us - it's that they take what we say as fact and direction when sometimes we're simply thinking out loud. I once had a colleague of mine tell me that I should not be surprised when people act on my thoughts or words even when they are not true directives. She equated it to me rolling a bowling ball down a lane and being totally surprised when it knocked over some pins.

Every time we speak - whether it's an opinion or an idea, we are in fact sending directional signals to our staff. It takes a disciplined, high performance team to be able to filter what is simply your viewpoint and opinion versus what is direction and fact. And building that team takes a leader who has learned how to be clear and concise.

That's why it's so critical we always think about how we frame our thoughts before we speak. We need to ensure that serious and clear statements are not confused for meandering opinions or of-the-moment debate.

I often tell my team that what I am about to say is not definitive but merely an opinion that could be better informed by their input. That means making sure you know the difference yourself. We breeze in and out of our teams daily grind, landing like eagles on the minutia and then going back up soaring above the clouds keeping a watch. Unfortunately for our teams they never know when we will swoop down and throw their routines off balance. Now that can work for the eagle - I mean it gets to choose its spots, pick out its target and get what it needs. Not so good, however, for the habitat below.

Being aware of our surroundings, our impact on others and our use of language and tone is uber important. Before you speak, think. As you speak, choose your words carefully. State opinion for what it is. State direction clearly. And, above all else, LISTEN.

Tags: clarity, communication, direction, messaging, performance, tone, blog, arlene dickinson

wendee lee pitt
November 20, 2013 at 1:42 am
In retrospect sometimes I've already thought out the question, the problem, the solutions, the best approach, and the management objectives so throughly, that I can sometimes omit actually verbalizing the details. Watching the tone, humor, and even flip or sarcasm, actually derail efforts to get the engaged conversation and critical dialouge I hope for.
Deborah Spilman
November 22, 2013 at 6:49 pm
Well put Arlene.
LOVING the e newsletter - !
Peter Banga
November 23, 2013 at 9:26 am
Discipline, discipline discipline!
Catherine Dahl
November 24, 2013 at 3:15 pm
Thank you posting this one. I do this regularly! This I great advice. I am new to YouInc but am already benefiting from it. We recently worked on our corporate values and tried to set a framework for an environment that fosters open discussion with room for what we call the business emotional bank account. My team knows, and I know, that we all need to have positive feedback going in so that when one says some thing and make a withdrawal - it doesn't bankrupt the working relationship. This is an example of actions as CEO's we can make withdrawals without realizing it.
Nino Kamber
November 25, 2013 at 6:58 pm
Every word counts, I like that Arlene!
Jacqueline J. Brown
December 5, 2013 at 2:00 pm
Thank you
Jenny Hooper
December 12, 2013 at 11:39 pm
I've have been paying attention and listening for a long time.. I am amazed by how many people have no idea about what is going on right in front of their face's , never mind their surroundings.. I have watched what many people have done wrong, and try not to make their mistakes. I've have learned a lot as well from my own mistakes. I have learned most of all be kind to others and always put your self in their shoe's before you speak. Some time's Silence is priceless.. I have a lot to learn yet about everything, but thanks to my grandma and grandpa (he passed last week Dec 2, 2013). I have learned to be honest, caring, understanding, given, and just being a productive person in this crazy world that is more destructive. I may not have always practiced these values, I am human, but over all I treat people the way I would like to be treated.. But now more than ever I hold those value's my grandparents taught me very close to my heart.. Don't shoot and asked question's later, because you can't go back in this world to make things right.
Liz Snell
February 15, 2014 at 8:57 am
Love this Blog Arlene. I know I can be guilty, when juggling too many things and being in a rush, to blurt things out without the appropriate (and necessary) preamble and details. Thanks for reminding me to think twice before I speak.
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