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Watch your Language

You don't need to motivate people to get things done, just try to avoid demotivating them by using the wrong language.

During my early morning walk in the park today, the local youth athletics club was out in full. It is such a joy to see all the children from 7 years old and upwards come together so enthusiastically and line up to start jogging, running and jumping. I admire the coaches and volunteers who are out early on a Sunday morning to motivate and encourage these children to a healthy outdoor lifestyle.

However as I passed one of the coaches, I heard them give instructions to the children on how far they had to run and the lay. Then the coach finished out the instructions about the poles they had to circle, and where the finish line was by saying the dreaded words (albiet with the best of intention)

Is there anyone who doesn't understand me?”

Now this is a real bugbear of mine. As a Executive Coach, I am so aware that “Words create Worlds”. As human beings we relate words to our personal understandings and not necessarily the speakers. In this sentence, the speaker implies (subconsciously) that everyone should understand them rather than the onus being on the speaker to ensure their instructions are understood.

So what is wrong with this sentence, you might say. Well put yourself in the a childs position, how many of them, amongst their peers all eager to get going, are going to raise their hand and say

“Coach, actually I don’t understand you!

No, it's more likely they are going hang back, just slightly ,in the hope that they can follow others until they are sure of the course.

Communication in the Workplace.

So often, I see the same thing happen in the workplace where a Manager gives instructions on a new project, policy, process etc and finishes the instructions by saying things like “Are you all with me? Is there anyone who doesn’t understand? And such like.

The Manager / Team Leader assumes that he/she has communicated what is needed to the members of their team. However, maybe individually, the team members just hope that the others know what is going on, and they will hold back and catch up as everyone move off the starting line and they get a feel for when the finish line is.

But what happens if no-one really understood the instructions?

It takes a fully formed and high performing team to push back and challenge the team leader or to stick their head up in front of the peers and acknowledge that they don't understand something.

How often have you felt you communicated to your team only for (A) Someone to return at a much later stage seeking clarification or (B) the team delivering something completely different.

So the next time you ask your team something like…

· Do you understand me?

· Do you get me”?

· Do you see what I mean?

Consider is there a better way to get your point across.

Have I explained myself properly?

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