Language matters. The way we talk, the words we use, the conversations we spark. It all matters. If our aim is to create and maintain a happy work culture (and it should be!), then it stands to reason that we have to speak differently. In fact, I define leadership with one simple question: “What conversations happen because you’re in the room?” You see, leaders move the conversation beyond the mundane, task-centric business-speak that is pervasive in most work cultures. They refuse to participate in, engage in or allow negativity, pessimism or cynicism. Instead, they elevate the dialogue, ignite thought and encourage participation. They speak (and listen) differently. They talk about success not just in terms of dollars and cents, but in terms of fulfillment, meaning and the opportunity to fully utilize the talents of the team.
And because the members of the team see and hear this different kind of language, they too, speak and think differently. The air in great work cultures is filled with words of appreciation and gratitude. Conversations about dreams and goals and giving abound. And this becomes the norm, the culture. And success of the more traditional kind (profits) follows. In fact, one study showed that more profitable organizations literally speak differently than those that are less profitable. The ratio of positive language to negative in successful companies is 3 to 1, while those companies deemed unsuccessful have a 1 to 1 ratio.
So, take a few minutes this week to think about your language and your conversations. What do you say that inspires your team members to do more, achieve more and be more? What do you say that may have the opposite effect? Become conscious of your words. Take notes. Make a list of the positive and the negative and then make a plan to start inspiring more great conversations in your office and start eliminating the conversations that erode the feelings of comfort, confidence and courage.
Imagine the impact you can have on your organization by investing nothing more than a little thought in how you speak.