Using the riight words is so importantChoose Words Well

When you are a Manager imparting information on a project you need to be extremely careful on the words you use to make sure that you convey authority and knowledge of the situation.

How many times do you hear Managers use the words “hopefully”; “probably”; “I think” and other weak words and phrases to get over the status or issues.

Most recipients of this type of response will pick up on these words and start questioning the status and the manager’s credibility and knowledge of the subject.  If you say that “hopefully a date will be met”, are you actually saying we are in danger of missing that date?

As with nearly everything you do with Management you need to concentrate on the presentation of the content not just the content. If you don’t know the current status of an item it is better to say “I do not know the answer to A, but I will get it for you by y” than “I think it is B, but I am not sure – let me check”.

The first example shows that you will go and get the definitive answer where as the second is a guess and then a reconfirmation.

As with most things we do it is all down to preparation; preparation; preparation when getting ready to issue a communication.

Assertive Words

You should try and put yourself in the recipients shoes and see what type of questions they are likely to ask and make sure that you use the correct type of words that reinforce action and assertiveness.

Even if you are having a weekly meeting don’t turn up without doing any preparation, its when you wing it that you start using the vague terminology I outline above.

Early in my career I would never prepare before meetings and thought no problem I can make it up as I go. That when you get that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when asked a question you know full well you should have the answer at your finger tips.

I now prepare even for the briefest meeting to install the confidence in people that I am in control and know what I am doing. I avoid all the wishy-washy words mentioned above as well as others.

I also regularly prepare an update that I have in my back pocket for those times when you are cornered in the lift (the elevator pitch) or to and from your car.

Everything we do in Project and Programme management is related to people, people want us to do things, we need people to do things and so on, therefore we need to make sure that we present an image that we know what we are doing and are in total control of the situation.

The way we display that control and confidence to others is by using words so make sure we use them well.

As an exercise why not comment below with words you feel should be avoided when talking to stakeholders and others.

Here is your starter for 10 – should; might; possibly; hopefully,  could,