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Think about what you say

Last week I talked about the importance of leading by example. It was a topic that engaged me a little extra and I thank you for all the feedback I received.

Today’s topic is about communication. To think about how we talk to and about our employees.

Mona told me that a few years ago when she was at Arlanda, she met her CEO and his business associates. The CEO introduced Mona with the words “This is Mona who works with me”.

Coincidentally, the whole thing repeated itself some time later, only this time it was not the CEO but Mona’s immediate boss. He also introduced Mona to his business acquaintances. He said “This is Mona working under me”.

Do you see the difference? It feels immediate for anyone who would be experiencing what Mona was experiencing. The CEO had understood the importance of making it clear that Mona was one of the team, because they worked together. However, Mona’s boss did not have the same thoughts, because he saw that Mona was a subordinate and thus marked his own high person.

By saying “with me”, one showed that he was a leader. With “under me” the other showed that he was not, but only held the title of manager. One is involving and the other is placing.

Mona’s story reminds us how important it is that we use language correctly. Sometimes I’m told that “it’s just semantics” when I point out the importance of words.

But we communicate both with words and body language. The latter has disappeared a lot in the last year as we are many communicating over online applications where many also do not have the camera turned on. This makes what we say even more important.

My recommendation is that you sit down for a while and think about how you use language to involve and enthuse employees in your business. Do you have any olater that makes you the opposite, makes people feel distant and disengaged. Be honest with yourself. Do you have someone you are close to at work? Ask them if they have any tips for you.

Tips are to use involving words like “we” instead of “I” and “our” instead of “my” when talking about the common. It’s not “my department”, it’s “our department”.

It will not be easy to change a well-rehearsed way of expressing yourself, but with awareness and persistence you will succeed in improving the way you communicate. There is more to successful communication than the words we use, but I’ll come back to that at another time.

Do you have any good examples of craziness that you have heard and reacted to? Feel free to send them to me.

Good luck!