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The Language of Change

I am taken by the impact that our words have. Full Stop.

As children, we were often found reciting, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never harm me.” The truth, though, is that bones heal quickly, but a spirit can be crushed – for the long-term – by words.

Our self-talk influences our own behaviour – positively or negatively – as does our external conversation. If our self-talk is negative, we reinforce a negative self-concept, which ensures a negative outcome in our actions. We can, quite literally, sabotage our own success. The same is true when we examine the impact of conversation in teams.

Gossip assassinates multiple colleagues, as does withholding of support, due to preconceived ideas or stereotypes. Beyond this, if we expect our teams to collaborate, but use the language of coercion, we will have mixed results. I cannot persuade you to work well with me because you have to. You must want to, or else the best I can hope for is “compliance.”

Likewise, if we desire high performance, we cannot use the language of communism. We need to speak about the value of the change – easily recognisable within the individual’s sphere of influence – and how alignment will produce a better return on time, energy and money invested.

In my experience, using the “soft” language of “inside-out” change does inspire passion. But not the kind that leads to individuals committing to the organisation. Rather, it more often sees them pursue individual dreams, rather than realise the potential of their role within their work team.

We prepare children for school by letting them see the positives in the growth, talk to those who have experienced the change positively and familiarise themselves with the new environment long before they need to. If we adopt these techniques in change management, we are sure to reduce the resistance to change. Because we don’t always resist change. We resist coercion. We choose fresh opportunities and challenges, when they are presented in terms of our becoming.

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