So, what does this topic have to do with coaching and leadership?
You may ask the question, “As long as people can communicate with one another, what
difference does it make whether we use language correctly or not, precisely or imprecisely. Why
would we care?”
One reason is our credibility, the descendant of trust and the core element a leader must exhibit. Whether we like it or not, listeners subliminally “judge” us and instantly decide whether they will follow us, support our ideas, and join us, all based on what they hear. This can be career making or demolishing if we are not understood.
The impact of the language makes a huge difference! Attorneys are masters at wiggling the
language to suit their cases (not suitcases!)
Precision gives us a standard upon which to stand. Standards permit us a common base to share
ideas and pool knowledge.
Precise language paints colors on the canvas of communication and translates emotions into
words. It can avert war. It can soften hatred. It can move mountains and boundaries! Ask a
pharmacist or surgeon how important precise communications are so they treat the correct
problems and don’t amputate the wrong limb!
On the other hand . . .
As many strive toward crisp communications, the actual transmissions are often deliberately clouded
with imprecise language to hedge an issue or create sensational headlines to “sell” the news.
Misunderstandings are created with incorrect usage while humor is founded on grammatical
inconsistencies and misuse of words—the double entendre (words or phrases with more than one meaning!)
Usage leads to impressions of our status and speaks to who we are and where we were raised. They are colored by the words we choose—do we talk or speak? Do you enjoy soda or pop?
Also, communication achieves many expressions other than verbal and written language. Morse code
and light signals are an example; S.O.S. is understood worldwide. Airline pilots use English and
Zulu time universally as standards to maximize safety, comprehension and understanding.
When each company sets a standard of communications, my research shows that people are less
frustrated and are more likely to be productive. Why—because they know what is expected of
them. They know they can meet the challenge or where to seek answers without fear of retribution. Curiosity is fed by a freedom to explore and discover solutions—innovation thrives.
Presently, I’ve observed from senior managers to hourly employees, an inability to express what
they want so they “come up empty handed.” When people are continually disappointed in
outcomes, futility sets in and lowers productivity.
Avoid using jargon or industry “speak” for best understanding, especially when writing in a blog or articles. Sayings like, “The power of the printed word,” and, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” demonstrate the impact of words to the masses and the strong motivations they can stir!
Here’s the good news—language enhancement is a learned skill. It can be easily attained within 90 days. I enjoy working with the Executive Verbal Advantage program with clients.
The Human Connection
All types of languages are part of our social human connection.
• Visually impaired people learn body language and use their other senses to “read”
• The hearing impaired have sign language.
• Immigrants stumble through broken sentences, yet they understand enough to succeed in
business in their new culture, like the Gallo wine family.
• What about the language of the heart and eyes, of touch? Words defy the strong messages
transmitted by feelings, music, dance and art.
For example, the international Olympic Games are testimony to the language of the heart and humankind’s quest for connection and to excel. What could easily become a Tower of Babel results in an exchange of compassion and camaraderie, empathy and visualization of dedication to a burning desire to excel in a sport. An old song lyric, Words Get in the Way, expresses a search for this deeper level of communication.
As the world continues to shrink through the use of technology, cultures pour onto each other.
We become more pictorial in expression and gravitate toward universal symbols, evidence of our
need for a common focus and universal cooperation.
When understanding is our goal than the words have meaning. When understanding becomes
meaningful action, then we can become profitable, purposeful and plentiful. We can strive for a
universal exchange and bridge ideas to peaceful progress.
Imagine how your command of language and communication affects your leadership abilities and enhances your personal credibility.