The words we use both reveal and shape our thinking. Skilled communicators have learned that their words have power, and they choose their language with intention, for their own sake as well as that of their hearers. Here are just three examples:
“You make me. . . “ — When we say, “You make me mad/ sad/ happy/ etc,” you are giving up personal power to someone else. Your psyche knows. Try reframing: “I feel angry when you. . .”
Building or earning trust? — As Rachel Botsman, author of Who Can You Trust, has pointed out, when we talk about building trust, it’s different than talking about earning trust. Building trust assumes a position of control. Earning trust recognizes it’s up to the other person whether to trust us or not.
What kind of power? — And those pesky little prepositions make a world of difference. Pairing them with power makes that abundantly clear. Ponder these and the worldviews they reveal and reinforce:
Power over = a position of dominance
Power with = a position of collaboration
Power to = a position of advocacy and support
Power within = a position of self-awareness, wholeness, and maturity
Exerting power over automatically precludes any of the other three. The other three, however, are not mutually exclusive of each other. Good leadership is not about power over. Good leaders know the value of and demonstrate power with, to, and within. See more about these four types of power here:
Remember, words have power. Choose yours wisely. They might be communicating something you don’t intend. Even to yourself.
Is your communication or that within your organization all it needs to be? Contact me to discuss options for coaching or consulting.