Think the Word, Feel the Word, Be the Word

Words intrigue me. Not their spelling, their origin or even necessarily the words themsleves. It is the words people choose and the message they (the words) send.

I am right there with the best of them wrangling over a 15 word mission or vision statement and have to confess that I often brought the thesaurus to our strategic planning retreats.  I have never met a charge statement that I didn't like, yet they never leave my desk unchanged. Technical brevity and Black's Law definitions a given, I still play with the words to get at the essence. Drives my staff crazy but I just have to do it.

You know, I am beginning to realize that not everyone feels the same about words and to acknowledge that at times, I may take it to the extreme. Please don't ask me to put together a potentially charged message quickly, it just is not happening. I have got to get in the zone and know what message I want to send and then select the words that communicate that. Ok, nerdy but it is so very important to me that I do what I can to improve the odds that the message received was what I intended.  Add meta-messages as discussed in Deborah Tannen's recent book, You're Wearing That?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation and now you really have my attention! I love this stuff!

I was in a conversation with a colleague recently about a supervisor. My colleague was expressing a concern about how a particular supervisor's relationship with his employees . There are a number of words he could have used to describe the relationship: unfair, harsh, without integrity, inconsistent, and on and one.

Do you know what he did say? He said that he felt that the supervisor "discards" employees. Yes, discards. Stopped me right in my tracks. A picture says a thousand words but one word can create one heck of a picture.