7 Marks of Engaging Language
There are no casual words, when it comes to leadership.
Every word delivers results. Determine desired results before opening your mouth.
- Build or destroy.
- Energize or anesthetize.
- Push forward or hold back.
- Smooth talking.
- Slippery language.
- False compliments.
- Hidden agendas.
Manipulators hide what they really want behind slippery talk.
Protect yourself from manipulators. Avoid them, if possible.
Ask manipulators what they want and when they’re done talking, you still aren’t sure.
Ethical leaders don’t manipulate, they engage.
Connections built on slippery-talk fall apart with time.
Engaging language is:
- Clear. Lousy leaders confuse. Wise leaders clarify.
- Meaningful. Disengaging words may be clear, but they lack meaning.
- Actionable. Evaluate words by the actions they inspire. The rest is gobbledygook.
- Relevant. Invite others to see themselves in your words. Ask yourself, what are their issues, for example.
- Open. Everyone disengages, if you always know what’s best.
- Useful. Engaging words make life better for others.
- Inclusive. People stop caring when it’s all about you.
You know you’re engaging when others feel energized.
4 ways to evaluate leader-talk:
Only others can tell you what you said.
- What did you hear me saying?
- What was confusing?
- How did I make you feel as I was talking?
- What do you want to do, now that I’m done talking?
What words enhance engagement? Diminish it?
How can leaders evaluate their use of language?
Inspiring Saturday morning language! Thanks!
Thanks Roy. Have a great Saturday.
O_O Look into my eyes. 😀
Ok been doing this a couple of hours now….anything supposed to be happening??? Hehe
One does not have to be a wordsmith to lead, simply genuinely care about the people, mission, and organization. Nothing inspires like focused passion on the mission combined with love for the people carrying it out. Words will follow the overflowing of the heart. Genuine people do not have “Freudian slips”, nor do they need to parse their words or remember their lies and exaggerations. Genuine leaders show themselves to be worthy of trust, for they do what they say. Their words have meaning, just because they do care so much about the right things. Genuine leaders display their emotions, their struggles, their successes, their fears, but do so while thinking of the effect their words will have on others and the organization’s mission. They speak out against wrong, encourage what is right, and have learned to ask for forgiveness when wrong, and for feedback/correction often.
The tongue is a small member with great power. It should be used little for best effect. The Gettysburg Address is remembered because it is short and infused with Lincoln’s patriotism, love for his country and its dead soldiers, and full concentration on purpose. Nobody living knows whether Lincoln was a great orator. We all know he was a gangly, unattractive person. That makes no difference. The leader’s heart and purpose endures in his few words, inspiring generations.
May we be known for our genuine concern and love for our organizations, their people, and their missions, as people who influence for their good and the good of generations who will follow us.
Thanks Marc. “May we be known for our genuine concern and love for our organizations…” sounds like a leader’s prayer.
On one hand, I’d love to whole-heartedly agree with the idea that authenticity is the answer to effective communication. I believe it is essential and foundational. But, my experience shows that my authenticity could use some help, sometimes. For me, the thing that helps is holding my tongue, sometimes. (Something I didn’t do in this comment) 🙂
I completely agree with you, Dan. That is why I wrote, “The tongue is a small member with great power. It should be used little for best effect”. Those 2 sentences paraphrase some of James and Proverbs.
Thanks for your post.
I love the last line: What do you want to do now that I’m done talking? Some may just be relieved you are done talking! However maybe we could take that questions further, by asking what “will” you do now that I’m done talking. Wanting to and doing are different things. Always learn something from your posts! 🙂
Thanks Vicki. I’m afraid that when ineffective leaders stop talking, everyone just breathes a sigh of relief.
“Will” is a great add!
To confirm what you wrote: “The end of a man is action, and not a thought, though it be of the noblest”. Thomas Carlyle.
Being not a native speaker, could you please translate “KaPow” in plain English ? :-/
KaPow = right on or you nailed it.
Wow ! Thanks.
Seems pretty simple. Words that engage end in questions.
Leaders can evaluate by the numbers of answers they get and how many new questions they can turn this feedback into.
Want to be beloved????
Ask them lots of questions about them and keep asking them to talk about themselves and use their first name a lot.
Yep that about covers it.
What an excellent blog. I need to share this with my team and with everyone I know.
Excellent post Dan.
‘Evil words’ section…welcome to the majority of today’s marketers and advertisers! (grins)
I just realized something after reading this post. I’m finding that if I perceive something stated that will potentially lead others astray in a negative way, the more likely I am to call it out.
‘Manipulators hide what they really want behind slippery talk.’ >> Drives me nuts!
That said, I also empathize for some of the people who may have learned to not be direct when trying to get what they want. That is also manipulation yet I consider it less ‘bad’ then those that intentionally manipulate in order to take advantage of others. That’s like 2 separate groups of people. In the former group, (I’ve been there) people were generally punished in various ways for trying to ask what they want or need directly. So they learned that they have to go about it by other means which is basically, various forms of manipulation.
In the latter group, not sure as to the why’s, however, they too, have learned to get what they want by manipulating yet they tend to lack a conscience. They don’t CARE how much they hurt the other person. They just want what they want and will do anything and say anything to get it. They don’t care about the consequences.
Lots to ponder in your post today Dan.
Thanks for sharing.
True. When, I was leading our business in China, I once asked the organization to evaluate us as a leadership team. We sent out a questionnaire, and left space for the team to write what they felt, in their own words. Once we got the results, we realized that we needed to correct some of our behaviours, which we did. We also communicated our change intentions to the team, in terms of specific action plans, and implemented them.
A leader will help himself or herself by asking listeners to restate what they just said. This confirms I’ve said the right thing or it shows me when I need to say something differently.
BULLSEYE! 100 STARS for me … 5 stars will not do. Yeah … I love manipulators (sarcasm) … they always leave a special place in your heart … they are empty leaders. There was one week in my career that I was being manipulated so much that my head was spinning. I was like a deer caught in head lights. I knew it was happening but there was nothing I could do. That week ended with the manipulator telling me I was not good at leading. “Hmmm … maybe at your kind of leading” I thought as I got the royal boot (severance package).
Months before this happened, I made a conscience effort to ignore the signs, the negative politics, and focused on motivating my team in reaching their goals. It wasn’t easy but sometime taking the slings and arrows helps you grow as leader in the long run. One silver lining was that I was not going to accept that I was a “bad leader” and decided to focus on being a better leader. That path led me to the “Leadership Freak”.
Michael: love your post and congratulations on taking the slings and arrows. Leadership Freak seems to ALWAYS strike a chord. This post has me saying ‘Hoorah!’
I’ve known so many bosses that absolutely did not get this! They spoke for hours whilst imparting nothing uplifting
Great article but reading this leaves me wondering… How to engage your team when knowing that your view on the topic at hand differs largly from the view of your team mates?