Monday, November 5, 2012

Words Matter: The importance of semantics in business.

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Choosing the right words make or break a conversation.
There’s a distinct difference between wording something poorly mid-speech or mid-conversation and choosing the wrong words to manage and motivate.

Making a gaffe during a speech will happen to you (if you indeed do find yourself giving speeches).  It might even become a memorable part of the speech or conversation despite your protests and embarrassment.  Just chalk it up to your growing 'binder full of gaffes.'

Carefully chosen wording used to manage and motivate, however, can be instrumental in getting the best results from others. The right word choices can make all the difference when trying to elicit positive outcomes and feelings from an employee, in a meeting, during a review, or any other interaction; be it in a business or a personal setting.

Saying, 'How might we…?'; as in this LinkedIn posting from IDEO's CEO Tim Brown; is a perfect example of combining three important words into a synergistic powerhouse of verbiage can generate positive and creative results.

In IT staffing, words are an integral part of how we match candidates and clients. We ask clients what they truly want in a candidate beyond the job description. In addition to covering the skills, projects and jobs listed on their resume/CV, we ask candidates more about what they want from their career; we ask what they would like to take away from this project or how they would handle a situation that the client has told us might come up. Comparing and contrasting the client and candidate responses to these carefully selected 'word strings' can be the key to mutually positive outcome for all of us involved in the process.

Some other positive outcome provoking strings include:

  • 'I really appreciate…'
  • 'Tell me more…'
  • 'Yes we / you can…'
  • 'What do you think?'
  • 'How would you handle…?'
  • 'Please elaborate on …'
  • 'How do you feel about…?'
  • 'What's your take on…?'
  • 'What can we do about…?'

I am sure there are thousands of other powerful and efficient phrases out there that can be the catalyst for a positive conversation or outcome when interacting with others. If you have some gems you use to inspire, spur collaboration, praise, or motivate, I'd certainly like to hear them. Feel free to comment or drop me a line.

Josh Kaplan writes on various subjects including management, information technology breakthroughs, healthcare IT recruitment and innovations, big data, IT staffing and recruitment, and technical industry news and trends.