From time-to-time business leaders will reference things that happen in the business and frame them as either an outcome or the results of some set of actions or events. They can be positive or negative. They can be a contribution to the plan or be a distraction to getting to the objectives. These words are typically used interchangeably as synonyms.
I’m one of those who over the course of many interactions with leaders, writing articles and various other forms of communincation have in fact used these words without much regard to the best use. I believe all of us would agree that when the deliverable of some action is good then whether we reference it one way or the other does not become the focus of the information. On the other hand, if the deliverable is of the poor or bad nature then the word chosen can take on a more influential meaning to the receiver.
We are in no way an English major or literary expert, but we are involved many times with leaders who need to convey both good and bad news at different times in the course of operating a successful business. As a person who seeks to be a better version of ourselves each day, it becomes important to not just convey information but to use language to help support the level of impact such news has on the forward progress of a business.
Maybe the best way to express this concept is by example. Let’s set the stage as a business leader needing to tell the staff of a downturn in the business and its potential impact on the organization moving forward.
If the change is because of the organization’s strategy not working out then it is a result of faulty planning, process, procedure, execution, deliverables etc. The result here is directly tied/linked to specific actions or inactions executed by the organization, leadership and/or staff. It is a direct “result” of actions/inactions.
If the change is because of external dynamics such as the onset of the pandemic and organizations went into survival mode to stay in business then these external dynamics caused the change. It ended up producing a not so great outcome. The outcome here happened directly because of nonplanned situations that influence the direction of the business.
The result/outcome may in fact be the same – people have an unsettling pit in their stomach about the future of the business. One is the result of leadership and the other outcome happened to the organization.
One study had shown that the words used in verbal communication may account for only 7% of the taken in content and the greater portion is other factors such as physical gestures and pitch/tone of voice. Unfortunately, this study has been misquoted for years. (For more insights check out this video – https://youtu.be/7dboA8cag1M) The reality is that word selection is critical to conveying the desired results/outcomes. As more and more communication is taking place via textual deliverables – email, text messages etc., the words take on an even more important role for establishing the expectations for the deliverables. The impact here is that as leaders the words chosen to deliver a message are read and then interpreted by the reader not the intent of the leader sending the communication.
This week as you communicate with your team, take a pause and give strong consideration as to the words you use when talking to them or sending textual communication. Establishing a solid understanding of expectations will reduce all the additional follow up communication when either the results or outcomes are out of alignment.
Seeking an independent third-party resource to bounce communication situations off of so they have the correct impact on growth? Engage a Promise Guide to walk the communication path with you. Give us a call at FL (407) 984-7246 or MI (313) 527-7945.
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