All of us use language as we navigate our daily lives, whether at work, when parenting, socializing and more. Some of us speak as leaders and some even speak to large audiences professionally.
Have you considered what you are really saying when you communicate, and the impact of the words and tone you use on your audience? Is it a positive impact or negative? We may try to convey a message with all the positive intent in the world, but the words we choose may have the opposite effect causing loss of trust, confusion or portray us as leaders in a way that wasn’t intended.
In this time of crisis, understanding how our language affects others is more important than ever. We are bombarded with so many messages from an array of sources and almost all in a virtual or online setting. When we do have conversations, they are not face to face but instead on a little screen and we can’t see folks’ reactions or “read the room” in the same way. As leaders may also be communicating differently, especially as we may ourselves be in a state of stress or flux and as a result, we may miss it when the words we use don’t land the way that they should.
For me, the easiest thing to remember about the impact your words will have on others is to ensure you are in the right frame of mind when you are communicating.
To help my clients (and myself) do this, I came up with a useful tool to help jog our memories: S.M.I.L.E. ™
S – Service: Are you communicating in service to the other person/audience or to yourself?
M – Mindful: Are you present, in the right frame of mind and grounded for the conversation or messaging?
I – Inclusive: Are you including all in the conversation and ensuring they feel that they belong? What language are you using to ensure that?
L – Listen: Listening is the most powerful part of communicating with impact but you need to be listening with the right intention.
E – Explore: Are you exploring what the other person/audience needs? Are you asking questions?
If you consider these things when you communicate, before a conversation or even before writing an email, your impact as a leader and communicator will be much more effective.
It’s a quick and easy tool to try. Remember, it‘s not about words, it‘s about conversations that are inclusive, safe, include listening and real support (not just the nod of the head) and then action – that is the language of leadership.