By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to enhance your ability to communicate effectively. Reading time: 3:04
What if you had a powerful drug that you could dispense virtually at will that could stimulate productivity and increase profitability in your company or organization? And what if this powerful drug was free, legal and available over the counter?
The spoken word is the “the most powerful drug used by mankind,” observes author and poet Rudyard Kipling.
Indeed the most effective leaders carefully prescribe, dose and deliver their drugs (words) of choice knowing how quickly they can react in a human body to either sedate or educate; inflame or inform; frighten or enlighten.
But sometimes –words like drugs- can have egregious side effects, especially if not administered with the precise emphasis and timing.
Consider the routine conversation over lunch, when the French lady was asked by her English speaking friends what she was looking forward to in the years ahead. The French woman responded without any hesitation: “A penis” After everyone blushed, a friend said, “Oh you mean happiness.” ” Yes,” she nodded “A penis.”
And sometimes a correctly prescribed word (drug) can trigger a negative reaction. Consider the government official who was fired when he called the budget process “niggardly.” The dictionary defines niggardly as “stingy.” The government official was right on. Yet dead wrong. Some in his audience heard something else and suffered the unintended side effects of the N-word drug.
Leaders Have The Last Word
As drug dispensers, leaders don’t have to know the arcane facts in words. They don’t have to know that hungry and angry are the only two words in English that end in “gry”; that “uncopyrightable” is the only 15 letter word spelled without repeating a letter ; that “stewardess” is the longest word typed only with the left hand or that silver, month and orange have no words that rhyme. Who cares?
But leaders do have to care about and appreciate the distinctions and differences in words:
- An invalid is not invalid.
- Razing and Raising sound the same but one tears down and the other builds up.
- Slow up means the same thing as slow down.
- And a teacher’s primer is not the same as a painter’s primer .
They are aware of the helpful and hurtful nature of words as the anonymous poet notes:
”A careless word may kindle strife
A cruel word may wreck a life.
A bitter word may hate instill.
A brutal word may smite and kill.
A gracious word may smooth the way.
A joyous word may light the day.
A timely word may lesson stress.
A loving word may heal and bless.”
Choose your words carefully to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
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