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Stop saying these 3 words. Today.

POWERFUL LEADERSHIP MOMENTS
 
You probably already know your communication skills are at the core of everything you do as a leader (arguably, they are at the core of everything you do as a human being, but that’s for a different article).

Sadly, just knowing this doesn't make us better at it (wouldn't it be great if that was how ilife worked).

Most of us can recognize a great communicator when we see (and hear) one. Ask us to describe what they did that worked and we’re at a loss of words (see what I did there?).



Here are 3 language crutches you should ditch immediately from your communication if you want greater impact – they are guaranteed to get you less defensiveness and more openness.

 

1) Absolutes

I naturally reach for absolutes when I get excited or passionate about something. What about you? Did you throw an always in there the last time something made you horribly angry?

Sorry, what’s that? You never use them?

Absolutes like “always” and “never” or “none” and “everyone” add very little to your message, and they often detract from your intended message. You probably choose these words for emphasis. They have the opposite effect. As communicators, they make us seem uninformed or unprepared.

Afterall, if we knew exactly how many people hated the new benefits plan, we wouldn’t have said everyone.

Even worse, absolutes can offend our listeners.

Want to be persuasive and influential? Make sure your words reflect a reality that is accurate and specific. Situations are rarely black and white.

2) Buts

“I really like what you’ve created with the new benefits plan Sarah, but I think it needs more options for mental health support.”

“Jonah, you made good progress this year, but I know you can improve on your numbers.”

“I had a great time, but I’d prefer to just be friends.”

But. It’s one of the smallest words we use, and one of the most harmful. It’s taken me years to strike all the buts from my vocabulary. And I have never looked back. Adding a but to a sentence minimizes (or even negates) everything that came before it. To fix this habit, simply choose a substitute.

The easiest and most effective subtitute is and. The other option is to simply put a period where you want to put a but.

“I really like what you’ve created with the new benefits plan Sarah. I think it needs more options for mental health support.”

“Jonah, you made good progress this year, and I know you can improve on your numbers.”

“I had a great time, and I’d prefer to just be friends.”

The word “and” has a way of building on the previous statement, rather than negating it. It will feel strange at first. Trust me, it works. (I almost put a BUT in-between those last two statements!)

3) Passive Voice

“Your final performance review has been submitted to HR.”
(really, it just magically got submitted all by itself?)

“Your report is being reviewed.”
(ummm...by whom?)

“Unfortunately, your request for a pay increase cannot be approved right now.”
(okay...and who decided that?)

“Mom, my tablet got left on the bed and got a crack in the screen.”
(right. I guess the house elf must have slept in again)



Do these statements make you uncomfortable? That’s the passive voice at work.

The passive voice makes things sound cagey, because the subject of the sentence is missing. The subject is usually the most important part of a sentence, followed by the action that subject is doing. When we use the passive voice, we take the emphasis off the subject and place it on the action.

Using the active voice will make your communication more personal and direct.

“I’ve submitted your final performance review to HR.”
(thank you for letting me know)

“Joe is reviewing your report.”
(that's interesting...Joe isn't usually involved in these things...)

“Unfortunately, I cannot approve your pay increase right now.”
(that sucks, but at least I know it was your decision)

“Mom, I left my tablet on the bed, sat on it, and cracked the screen.”
(now we're getting somewhere...)

 
So go ahead and ditch all 3 word crutches. You’ll notice an immediate difference in the power of your own communication.

What about you?

Which of these 3 word crutches will be hardest to ditch?

  • Absolutes

  • Buts

  • Passive Voice

You can vote for more than one answer.






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