Only in the last few years have I realized how important words are in my life. I don’t mean poetry and prose, but simple one or two word phrases that can stop a conversation dead in its tracks and build mistrust.

I am not a word nerd, but words are very important and I try my best to use them as precisely as I can. I also find it very lazy to use words out of context; especially by people in positions of leadership.

There are words used incorrectly:

  • Adverse and averse
  • Affect and effect
  • Led and lead
  • I.e. and e.g.

There are words & phrases that are made up:

  • It is ‘all intents and purposes’ not ‘all intensive purposes’
  • It is ‘enunciate’ not ‘annunciate’
  • It is ‘Espresso” not ‘Expresso’
  • It is ‘Cabinet’ not ‘Cabnit’
  • It is ‘Nuclear’ not ‘nucular’

But there are words that kill trust and will inevitably lead to an unhealthy culture on any team or workplace.

  • ‘Yeah but’ … this tells the listener that you don’t really care
  • ‘You don’t understand’ … this causes listener to feel they are being treated with disdain
  • ‘With a bit more experience’ … dismisses youth and enthusiasm
  • “I appreciate your comments’ … means thank you but you really don’t have any idea of which you speak
  • ‘It’s not in the budget,’ or ‘that’s not according to policy’ means you are blowing the person off because you haven’t even thought about it
  • Referring to ‘the (dreaded) five year strategic plan’ means blah, blah, blah, blah, blah

They say sticks and stones will break my bones; but words will never hurt me … but words hurt.

Words cut to the core of a human being faster than a knife ever can and those wounds can take forever to heal.

Our people are watching and listening to everything we say, ergo (and I use that word correctly) it behooves us as leaders to be very precise with the words we choose and apply them judiciously & thoughtfully.

In World War II they said ‘loose lips sink ships’; in our world loose lips can sink Culture.

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