Communication Conversations Self awareness

Watch your language

It’s proven that people tend to listen less well when the dialogue partner makes themselves smaller by using ineffective language.

“We’ve discussed this several times before.”

Ok, if we already discussed this several times before, why are we discussing it again then?

Was it because we never decided what we needed to do? Or perhaps, we didn’t listen well enough? Or is it possible that you didn’t explain it adequately?

Or perhaps, you just don’t know how to have a proper conversation.

Let’s try another one.

It’s a great idea but… 

So what does that mean? Is it a great idea or not? What do you like about the idea that makes you say great? 

And why the but?

Then you find out it never was considered a great idea. It’s all about the but. The reasons why something would not work.

One of those reasons being…

We’ve already tried this before.

I’m sure you’ve heard that one before as well. 

You or someone else brings an idea to the table. Then there’s someone in the group who decides to suck the energy out of the group by stating the idea is not new.

And it didn’t work last time.

Language matters.

A lot.

There’s a lot to wish for. We could be much more effective in our language if we were willing to invest a little time in understanding how we come across. And how to improve it.

I realize we’re not all native speakers, but that doesn’t mean we should just give up on understanding what we can do better to make our point.

For example, I know that I sometimes use too many words to get my point across. I could be more effective by limiting the words I think I need.

What’s good is that I don’t use a lot of business babble. Things like low-hanging fruit, game-changer, trim the fat, etc. 

Overused. Inauthentic. 

Let’s do one more. Ever heard this one?

A lot has already been said…


There’s not much I can add…

Then the person states the same differently and talks for minutes.

You will come across these examples daily in every company in almost every meeting.


Because we’re not properly trained on how to communicate effectively. And we’re also not aware of the impact our language has on the outcome we’re looking for.

We don’t do this intentionally, but the impact is significant sometimes.

It’s proven that people tend to listen less well when the dialogue partner makes themselves smaller by using ineffective language.

When you stress that something was said already before, people stop listening. Perhaps not consciously, but unconsciously for sure.

We’re unconsciously incompetent.

The first step is to become consciously incompetent. Watch your language, and be aware of softening words or statements. Just say what you want to say without the disclaimers at the start or at the end.

And if someone else has already said it, practice your humility and shut up. Nobody benefits from hearing the same point again.

I mean it. 

Change it. Watch your language.

People will appreciate it when you talk, they will always listen when you have something to say, and thus you’re more effective.

Your turn: Watch your language.

Do more of what makes you happy!


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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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