“Fix that so we don’t make any more mistakes.” Snarl words. “Figure out what we do well, and let’s do more of that.” Purr words. Which are more powerful?
“Wonderful work.” Purr words. “Wonderful, more customer complaints.” Snarl words. The same word is both, but it’s clear to all which is which. One is empowering, the other demotivating. Which is better for business?
Subtle usage makes a difference, intonation makes a difference, and tone makes a difference. It’s not just words that matter, but how they’re delivered also matters. Words can build or words can dismantle, and so can delivery.
We know people drive everything. And we know words influence people. Yet we don’t use words in ways that respects their gravity.
It takes care to use the right words in the right ways, and it takes thoughtfulness. But with today’s race pace, it’s tough to be well rested which makes it tough to use care and forethought. Well rested shouldn’t be a luxury and shouldn’t be scoffed at. In an instant the wrong words at the wrong time can be catastrophic. Trouble is the value of being well rested cannot be quantified on the balance sheet.
People power processes and words power people, and the right words at the right time can make all the difference. But it takes thoughtful, enlightened people to deliver them. And for that, they should be well rested.
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Mike Shipulski brings together people, culture, and tools to change engineering behavior. He writes daily on Twitter as @MikeShipulski and weekly on his blog Shipulski On Design.