“I think this something we might want to take another look at.” During our long meeting certain words kept getting repeated. “Maybe,” “I think,” “probably,” “potentially,” “perhaps,” “might,” etc. Once I became aware of these words, my ear couldn’t help but hear them. “Likely,” “I believe,” “mostly.” There was no end. Clear language is a function of courage. It takes courage to be clear. It’s courageous because clear words may offend somebody else. It’s courageous because clear words may be wrong words. To spare ourselves the emotional labor, a number of us add mud to our speech. We sand down the sharper edges of our intent with extra words designed to soften the blow or make us seem less like a jerk. Here’s the big tip: Stop doing that. Find your position, be clear and kind with your words, expect to be wrong sometimes, and expect that somebody may be upset and somebody may think you’re a jerk. “I am concerned about ___ because ___.” That’s what he wanted to say, and if he chose this approach, our meeting would have been much more honest and fruitful.
Future leader speaker and author of the book Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future. Free stuff! Get the first five chapters of my new book, an executive summary, and the Future Leader Companion Workbook here.