Beyond the Build

Leadership

Lightning vs Lightning Bug

I recently heard a Mark Twain quote that resonated with me:

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”

Many things are advancing in our modern world, but language doesn’t seem to be one of them. If you’re talking to a coworker or making a sales pitch, there is an art of stringing words together in way that seems less abrupt and more considerate. Here are a few phrases that I have found useful that might be a bit uncommon:

“I share…”

“Help me understand…”

“Is it out of line to be asking…”

“What do you think about …”

“Should we consider…”

This type of language downplays ME and is more inclusive of the person I’m conversing with. This sounds obvious, but judging by what I see from time to time, it must not be. Putting other people first makes them much more receptive to what you are sharing. Adapt your language to be heard.

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and President of the Stewart Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.