I find myself using the phrase, “This could be highly dangerous,” on occasion. This comes up in different scenarios, such as taking a break from my desk to walk outside to the patio on a pleasant day, sitting down in a lounge chair and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. And I think to myself … this could be highly dangerous. (Why? Because it tempts me not to go back to my desk!) But, is it really dangerous? In the traditional meaning of the word, dangerous (which, according to dictionary.com, means: of danger or risk; causing danger; perilous; risky; hazardous; unsafe), sitting out on the patio during the work day is definitely NOT dangerous.
Which brings me to the subject of words.
One of my favorite quotes – featured on our website – is: The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug (Mark Twain).
Since I’m a communicator at heart, I love this quote because it clearly communicates the power of words.
But words are often misunderstood, misconstrued and misused (as in the case of my misuse of the word dangerous). And sometimes they are just simply misspelled. Case in point: I recently attended a presentation made by a highly educated expert, but I found myself highly distracted by her PowerPoint slides that were peppered with many spelling errors.
The way words are delivered is often not done well. By that I mean tone. Tone is very important because it reflects how one feels when reading or hearing the message. It shows that the writer or speaker cares about the receiver of the message. It also reflects upon the writer or speaker personally as well as affecting morale and motivating the person on the other end of the message.
Taking care to think about the words we use, what they mean and how they will make the other person feel is something that I think is often lacking these days. In business, it could mean the difference between engaging and motivating an employee, closing a deal with a new customer, or creating a meaningful connection with a supplier.
Carefully chosen words are like your best friends – they will hold up in all kinds of situations. Perhaps our team can help you with choosing the words that are like lightning: powerful, bright and hard-to-miss.