Words Matter

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I learnt this early on in my career, working as a lawyer in the financial district in Amsterdam. I vividly remember a multi-million arbitration case I worked on, the contentious issue being the interpretation of three words in a 100+ page contract…

So words matter, nuance matters.

Recently, I was reminded of that when my friend casually said “Oh yeah, I am so lucky!” when I congratulated her on her promotion. Lucky? Lucky?! This woman, who is extremely capable at… everything, that eats KPI’s for breakfast, sets entirely new goals at hights not previously thought possible and then kicks them out of the park… Lucky?

Nope. I won’t stand for it.

It wasn’t down to luck. It was grit. Hard work. Brains. Heart.

When we casually refer to all of that as “luck”, we diminish it. We downgrade what went into getting there, and as a result, we diminish ourselves.

Please, be careful with the words you use, when you talk to others or when you talk to yourself. The results of diminishing yourself to others is fairly evident (Bye bye promotion! Bye bye stretch project!).

And I would argue that diminishing you to you, is even more detrimental. Insidious and damaging. The words you use to describe your actions to yourself directly impact not just your perception of yourself in that moment, but over time they become the voice, the definitive statement on you. So ask yourself, how do you talk to yourself? Do you say “Ugh, I am so bad at cooking!” when a meal you’re cooking doesn’t quite work out, or “I can’t do ANYTHING right!?” at a minor mistake?

Or are you more gentle, focusing on the learning opportunity involved, or the bright side that is in every situation?

Research shows a growth mindset is the way forward, and it starts with how you speak to yourself.

So remember: words matter.

If you want to learn how to speak to yourself AND to others, and have both parties involved benefit, do let me know. I specialise in finding the right words for career conversations.

Book a call with my team for a free coaching session and let’s see what we can do for you!