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Pierre’s work as VP Operations has resulted in profound operational efficiency for his organization. Yet his ideas are rarely considered by the executive team.
Madeline consistently delivers marketing results that have put her organization on the map—where before they were an absolute unknown. Yet she is “taken seriously” by the Sales team—her key internal customer.
Juan Carlos is the most streamlined and efficient software engineer in his organization. Yet he is often passed over for promotions.
All three leaders came to me for coaching to increase their executive presence, their energetic weight of how they were perceived in their organization.
Weak Words, Weak Leader
What do all have in common? They use verbal qualifiers, or “splitters”, which weaken their language. And so they are perceived by others as weak leaders.
Here are the problems with verbal qualifiers. They:
- Keep us from owning the statement we’re making
- Disconnect us from what’s happening inside of us
- Are a subtle projection of power
- Disown ourselves and our feelings
- Split the person using them from reality
- Are used to hide from reality
Here’s a crash course on verbal qualifiers to avoid:
- Almost: “I think I’ve said almost everything about that.”
- A Little: “She’s a little”
- Sort Of: “I sort of want to do that.”
- Kind Of: “I kind of think I will.”
- Maybe: “Maybe I’ll call you tonight.”
- Just: “I just called to ask how you are.”
- Sometimes: “Sometimes I feel…”
- May: “I may go to the movies tonight.”
- Might: “I might finish that today.”
- They: “They think…”
- Everyone: “Everyone says…”
- Someone: “Someone told me…”
- Probably: “He’s probably”
- As If: “I’m feeling as if…”
- Better: “I feel better.”
Strong Words, Strong Leader
Beneath the use of verbal qualifiers lurk our belief system and identity, so there’s more to this than simply word choice. Yet word choice matters. It is an indicator of inner work to be done.
As I coached Pierre, Madeline, and Juan Carlos to revise their beliefs about themselves which were causing them to use weak words, each of them started to more powerfully stand-in who they truly were. The results were terrific: Pierre regularly presents to the executive team and has received a promotion, Madeline has been asked by the Chief Revenue Officer to create a working group to brainstorm with sales and has been asked to speak at five external events per year, Juan Carlos now leads a large group of engineers and has a new title and compelling compensation package.
Language structures reality. What reality would you like to live in? What persona would you like to present to others?
Christine Comaford is a leadership and culture coach who helps businesses achieve growth. Learn more at SmartTribes Institute and see Power Your Tribe: Create Resilient Teams in Turbulent Times and SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together.
April 27, 2019 at 05:50AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs