Two Employees Laughing

Words carry an incredible influence. Used well, they can inspire, uplift and encourage. However, if words are used without care, they can demotivate or cause team members to feel slighted.

As a leader, it is important to understand that the way you speak will have an impact on those you work with. In my book Work That Works, I discuss this concept in the third principle, Using the Language of Grace: Words are Powerful.

At Emergenetics®, we make a conscious effort to use words that project optimism. For example, instead of saying, “busy,” we say, “actively pursuing our goals.” Years ago, I learned that the two Mandarin characters that make up the word “busy,” are “heart dies.” Although the English word for “busy” doesn’t carry that weight, I saw an opportunity to improve.

If someone asks, “How is your day going?” the common answer is, “I’m busy.” Everyone is busy! Around our office, we say, “I am actively pursuing my goals.” By making small changes in our vocabulary, we can have a big impact on company culture.

To motivate your employees and spur positive action, I invite you to consider how you are communicating with your team members and how your language may make them feel.

For this week’s Motivation Monday, I encourage you to learn to use words more powerfully by first noticing the language you use frequently. If you need help recognizing what terms you use most commonly, enlist a teammate or close friend to share their thoughts.

For the next week, try keeping a log of these words on a piece of paper in your notebook or on your computer or phone, and take time to record how they make you feel.

This exercise will help you begin to understand what terms you would like to keep using and the words to change going forward.


For more tips on how to apply the principles in Work That Works, purchase a copy of my book here or fill out the form below to purchase the companion card deck, which provides actionable tips to support your leadership journey.

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