Words to live by
For our conference in Las Vegas this month I prepared a workshop on effective communication. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we ended up with far too much content for our 48 hours together and ended up scrapping that session. Putting this workshop together was a real eye-opener and thought I would take a minute to share with you what I thought was an important discovery.
One of the things that I talk about frequently is ‘Purpose’. Obviously communication in the broadest sense encompasses almost everything you do. From the emails you write, the words that you say, to the way you behave and act everything you do communicates something. So when I began building this workshop, I started with identifying your communication ‘Purpose’. Each communication you make will have a unique purpose. For example if I send a letter to a prospective customer my ‘Purpose’ may be to earn their business. If I send a Thank you letter to one of our Summit sponsors my ‘Purpose’ is to show gratitude. What about my overall communication ‘Purpose’, my bigger picture? If I concede that every action I take communicates something to someone about me, about who I am, what I stand for, then doesn’t it make sense to have an overarching ‘Purpose’ for all of my communications? I think it does, and in fact, I think it would be completely irresponsible as a professional not to.
So how do I define my ‘Purpose’? Well, I started thinking about what exactly I want people to think of me and what words I would like people to use to describe me. Better yet, I should have an honest look at what words I think people likely use to describe me NOW. Once I have done that, then the next step is to outline what words I would LIKE people to use to describe me. Now if the two lists match perfectly then you are in a pretty good spot ( or have a self inflated ego and are beyond help ;0) ).
Once you have defined exactly what the words are that you would like people to use to describe you, then it makes it pretty easy to use that as your overall communication strategy. Does everything I communicate, every way I communicate lead me closer to or farther away from my goal of being described by my key words. If I were to stop and analyze everything I do against the words I would like used to describe me it makes it simple to decide what and what not to communicate.
Think about it, if I use the words ‘Sweet, Kind, Loving’ you probably have someone that immediately comes to mind. Alternatively if I use the words ‘Loud, Obnoxious, Arrogant’ you probably have someone that just as readily comes to mind (hopefully not me).
I created a document with a list of words that I thought were words that could be used to describe people. I then went through and selected the ones that I hoped people would use to describe me. I now keep these words on my desktop and try and keep them in mind when I am making any decision about what and how to communicate. You can see my list here.
This exercise was a real eye opener for me as I saw a couple of places in my communication that I was not ‘representing’ my words and it allowed for some immediate change. Some of the areas that I reviewed against my ‘Word List’ were:
- My voicemail greeting
Does my outgoing greeting on my office and cellular reflect my “My Words”?
- How I leave messages on others voicemail
- Email communication:
Tone, length, content, and even my email signature
- Marketing pieces:
do they reflect ‘My Words’?
- Personal interaction:
How I communicate to my staff, colleagues and clients
- Social Media:
Does my image on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn convey “My Words”
These are just some of the areas we can apply our overall communication strategy on a daily basis. I encourage you to create your own ‘Word List’. You can do so here at Wordle.net. Enter your desired words, click ‘Go’ and you can arrange and print as you like.
I would love it if you would share with me some of your ‘Words’.
Great write up Mike.
You managed to put into words the way that I gauge what I am putting out into the world. I think it is a fantastic barometer that everyone could put to good use!!
By the way, I found it VERY interesting that in your list of words, it was void of being ‘loving’. It seemed that your list was geared towards your professional life and I know it is difficult to see oneself as ‘loving’ in a business relationship, but your write up referred to an OVERALL purpose and list of words. I know that you are a loving husband, father and friend, so it just did not make sense to me that your list was missing this key descriptor of you.
I would like to challenge you and anyone else looking to use this tool, to transcend some traditional beliefs that we must separate our work and play life. Instead, let’s be congruent and authentic in all areas of our lives and stop compartmentalizing based on who our audience is.
Namaste ~ Lisa
Thanks Lisa, nice catch. I actually replaced loving with caring for this article. Trust me ‘Loving’ is in my master plan ;0)
I completely agree with you Mike. We need to constantly look at ourselves and make sure that we are being true to the person we are and want to be. Also, as Lisa had said, our professional and personal selves can and should be the same. I am constantly evaluating myself and my actions, and sometimes I don’t act as I should!
Thank you for this article!