Years ago, a friend and I were driving by a strip mall the flags briskly flying in the breeze grabbed my attention. A large sign above its door proudly proclaimed its business: “IMAGING.”

Casually, I shared: “I’ve been intending on making an appointment with them for days.”

“Why?” he said, “Do you have health issues?”

“What! No, why would you think that?” I asked, “I’ve been reading about the powerful results people are achieving as they expand their mind to envision a grander future for themselves.”

It rapidly became apparent we were talking about two different kinds of imaging!

Thank goodness my friend asked a clarifying question. Had he not, can you picture how lost we both would’ve been? And misunderstandings happen in large and small ways in every interaction we have.

I laugh at myself over that long ago recollection, and yet it has always presented a vivid reminder of the seriousness words and their interpretation play in effective communication. You see the terms we use are the seeds we plant intentionally or unintentional which produce healthy communication outcomes or not. How much care do you take as you express yourself?

Diverse Views:
In the scenario above, I was healthy as a horse so creating future was the only thing on my mind when I saw the sign. My friend had faced, and overcome health issues where medical imaging was part of his history. Our co-workers, bosses, subordinates, and customers all come from remarkably different backgrounds. So, there are plenty of life separations where we use the same words to express entirely different concepts. And with the world becoming smaller and smaller, and far more complicated every day the simple breakdowns in communication are getting bigger and bigger!

Inclusive communication isn’t exclusively about vocabulary. In fact, paying attention to body language often provides clues to bridging the misinterpretation gap. With such a large percentage of our communication occurring across phone wires today, listening to the pregnant pauses and voice tonality also provides an insightful gauge for the state of the listener’s agreement and understanding.

Hurting Or Healing: Your words can unconsciously carve out the heart and spirit of others. Or you can consciously choose to inspire and bring out the greatness in those around you. An absence of respectful, sincere, human-to-human interaction, to my mind, is one of the factors leading to the Gallup data that establishes 70 percent of America’s workforce is disengaged at some level. Employees who feel confident their contributions count to the success of the organization noticeably care more and give more!

Hint:  Recognizing a job well done, relating to others based upon strengths, celebrating wins, and pointing to “better” when things unravel go a long way to bringing out the best in others.

Potent or Anemic: The selection of your words conveys a lot about you and the impact your words will create. The choice is yours. Are you employing powerful words or insignificant ones? Your preferences reflect either leadership or followership both important in an organization, but leading to two wildly varying career destinations—one higher and the other midlevel. Are you using language that will have you heard at the level you intend to achieve?

You’ll want to tap into words that are inspirational, authentic, passionate and empowering as well as speaking with confidence and authority.


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