“Words matter. Choose them wisely.” This advice was shared with me over and over by the pastor I worked with several years ago. He impressed upon me the importance of choosing my words carefully, as the meaning they conveyed shaped others response to me and the vision we were working toward.
Your Words Set the Stage
As a leader, your words and how you convey them provide those you are speaking to with insight into how they’re going to respond to you.
How can you set the stage so you are taken seriously when you speak? How can you set the stage so those you’re communicating with agree and buy into the action you believe will lead to the vision you share? How can you provide context, while leading in a way that provides for open dialogue?
What if you’re not the leader in this context? How do you communicate so you’re taken seriously in that situation?
Speak with Authority
Here are three tips to guide you as you shape your message through your words and non-verbal communication.
- Use power words such as “I believe”, “I think”, and “In my experience”. No one can argue with you about what you believe, think, or have experienced. They may not have the same belief, thought, or experience, but you can own each of these statements – and you should. This is a good reason why you need to know your beliefs, your thoughts, and your experiences and be able to share them.
- Share your knowledge and experience. You were brought onto the team because you possess knowledge and experience the team needs. Own it! Share it! Some ways you can share it are:
- Relevant stories from your experience.
- Facts in which you are confident.
- Experiences of others you trust.
- Develop awareness of your nonverbal delivery. The majority of our message is communicated through body language and tone of voice, not words.
- Speak at a measured pace; not too fast, not too slow.
- Use the lower register of your voice. This is especially important for women. Speaking at a high pitch detracts from your authority.
- Practice good posture and own your space. All those times Mom told you to, “Stand up straight.” were a good reminder. Slumped shoulders, lack of eye contact and making yourself appear smaller or less than detract from the words you speak.
How do you speak with authority?