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Watch your language!

The words you choose and how you use them show people who you are. Melinda Guillemette.

Words are wonderful, powerful tools, and as such they deserve our attention.

We need to choose them carefully and deliberately to ensure they have the desired impact. To ensure we’re setting the right intention. To invite a conversation.

It’s equally important to also ensure we’re conscious of words that we should avoid. I’m not talking about swearing, I’m talking about words that set the wrong tone, reveal unhelpful motives or expose weakness in our thought process.

How to gain this awareness? Easy – create a list.

In fact create two lists. One list of words you want to use more often – a green list, and another for those you want to avoid – a red list.

Let's give this some context – I previously worked in an organisation going through an ‘agile transformation’. Well. The truth is that they thought that’s what they were doing, but they were really just trying to create a different set of processes and there was dysfunction a plenty.

As a result I was getting frustrated because I knew they were wrong. I tried to make them see the light. To convince them about a way of working that I was evangelising at the time.

Now notice the subtleties if I change this last few sentences a little.

As a result I was getting frustrated because I knew they were wrong I found it difficult to accept that they were different.

I tried to make them see the light. I had an aspiration to invite them to have a discussion about it.

To convince them about a way of working that I was evangelising at the time. To inspire them by exhibiting a way of working that was helping me to grow.

Pretty different huh? Not only in the words and the tone, but in the intention. In the whole energy of it.

Even reading it back makes me realise that my frustration was really with myself and that I was putting my own motives above anyone else’s.

Outwardly this probably led to some underlying negativity towards them in my communication, which didn’t serve me or them any benefit.


So here’s what the green and red lists looks like for me.


  1. aspire

  2. invite

  3. different

  4. accept

  5. grow

  6. options

  7. intention

  8. help


  1. make

  2. convince

  3. tell

  4. right

  5. wrong

  6. evangelise

  7. force

  8. do


Now it’s your turn.

And believe me that by inviting you to try this for yourself and create your own lists can have a profound effect. It’s nothing short of a game changer.

Professionally and personally this raises consciousness and self awareness not only of the words you use, but of your essence. Of what you really want. Of how you present yourself to the outside world.

A way of practising this at first is to try to talk less and listen more. 2 ears, 1 mouth and all that…

The ability to speak in several languages is an asset, but the ability to keep your mouth shut in any language is priceless. Michael Viradi.

It can be quite difficult at first,  especially if you become aware there’s more negativity or unhelpful intentions in your words than you realised.

But acknowledge the discomfort, sit with it briefly and then use your new awareness to your advantage. Use it as motivation and a reminder of how you want to be.

Then go out there and be awesome. 🙂

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