Watch your language!

How your words make a positive difference for your team

How you talk shapes your reality. And not just yours, but your team’s as well. You probably been in situations where you crafted a speech thoughtfully and then wondered how people trip up over one small word you didn’t even expect. And it doesn’t stop there. Long after everyone left the room you feel the ripple effect of that word. Even if it was a misunderstanding, you notice the effect.
 
 

Why your words matter

It helps team members build positive identities.

What you say to your team can deeply affect their sense of identity. Who they are and who they might become. A lifelong expert, a generalist, a great contributor or even future leader in the company. When you focus on the positives, you can inspire them to develop the skills they need to deliver results and achieve their goals.
 

Expanding your team’s thinking.

They way you talk helps others understand how they think and work. It provides insight into what they’re capable of and how to talk about their goals so they’re set up for success.
 

Your words build trust with your team.

Inviting questions, ideas and feedback and ensuring a respectful dialogue gives you insight into their inner world. This understanding – and the feeling of being heard and understood – build trust. And trust rocks. It’s the foundation for prosocial behaviour and great contribution to work. Especially in terms of self-motivation and autonomy.
 

Promoting positive relationships within the team.

Your words and tone can create an atmosphere of respectful interaction among all colleagues. When you influence your team so they are more self-motivated and value their peers, you help build a sense of belonging and community. People will give their best and work well together.
 

Role-modelling the skillful use of language.

People look very closely at what you do as a leader. Modelling a positive language will influence people to start using positive language themselves. This leads to your workplace becoming more collaborative, team members will actively help each other to deliver and grow.
 

5 types of positive language

Envisioning language.

This is all about helping your team to create positive mental images of themselves. It will help them connect to their current reality and then go beyond to what might be possible. “We’ve talked about sharing information within the team. What will it look like and what are we doing when we all share information proactively?”
 

Reinforcing language.

Pick out exactly what your team members are doing well. This helps them to build on their successes and see themselves as a competent part of the team. “You prepared an agenda for the meeting and managed the time effectively. That helped us to close out all important discussion points.”
 

Reminding language.

Ever get frustrated by people not meeting your expectations? You can remind and nudge your team regularly to stick to the agreed rules and expectations you and the business have towards them. “What are things you will pay attention to in order for the project to be off to a good start?”
 

Redirecting language.

We all get caught up in our heads and business at times. With no bad intent we then interrupt others or derail in unproductive tasks. When you notice this with your team, help them to reflect on the spot and make the adjustments that will help them stay on task and minimise burden on others. “Let’s first get clear on our desired outcome and what we will contribute before setting a meeting with the other team.”
 

Open-ended questions.

This is really powerful. Because there are no right or wrong answers, open-ended questions stretch curiosity, reasoning ability, creativity and independence. People then learn to develop strategies to deal with issues themselves, which pays forward into their abilities and belief in themselves.
 
 
Let’s turn insight into action. Which small adjustments can you make to how you talk to your team? Let me know what works and what seems to be difficult.
 
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