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Don’t sweat the small stuff, but what if that is the big and most important stuff?

Ralf a

Don’t sweat the small stuff, but what if that is the big and most important stuff?  

“Don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s all small stuff” is what an old adage wants you to believe. What if the really small details that you would barely notice are hinting to really important stuff that you should sweat?

In the communication of humans nothing is more important than listening to the nuances of our choice of words. They can tell you so much about the person you have in front of you and also provide you with a hint of if you are in trouble or not.

  • I versus we: If a sales person uses “I” a lot in a conversation or a job interview this may be good news as it can point towards an individual who takes ownership and pride the sales job. If you are looking for a team player this would rather hint toward a potential issue, right?
  • Me versus us: When someone uses “me” a lot over “us” that also points to potential issues if you are looking for a team player.
  • Mine versus ours: “Mine” is often used by folks who are more egocentric than others you prefer using the word “ours”. Again, if a lot of personal initiative and push towards progress is needed this may be the individual you want to look for your company. Does a manager use this terminology? Perhaps “mine” is not the right fit if you want to foster a collaborative environment.
  • For versus with: Would you want to have your managers mention that they work “for” or “with” their team members (employees)? The little difference can mean the world for the direct reports. “With” invites respect and collaboration.
  • Will versus may: “Will” you do something or are you just considering it? The latter reeks of non-commitment. You need the former in order to have forward motion.
  • Must versus could: Don’t you just dislike folks right from the get go when they drop the “must” on you? There only very few things in life that you must do. Would it not be so much better if they used “could”?
  • Employee versus team member: A good leader-manager may use “employee”; a great one will use “team member”, because she can relate by ways of leading at eye-level with her direct reports.
  • Can’t versus will: This is a really bad catch when a team member only drops “can’t” in conversations. Is it not more important what “will” be done?
  • But versus and: “But” in discussions is such a buzz kill and creativity buster. Using “and” will defuse many an awkward dialog and will help keep meetings flowing too.
  • Why versus I’ll tell you: Using an open ended question is so much better than telling folks. How do you ever really know what’s going on without really ever genuinely listening?
  • Always versus here is an instance: When someone tries telling you that you “always” don’t do something, how does that really help anyone? Would it not be much more useful if you are being let in on a particular instance where something did not work out as expected?

Sure, sometimes you cannot and must not sweat the minutia of the day-to-day stuff. Then again, it just may be important paying attention what kinds of words are chosen in discussions with and around you. That is something you really should be regarding as important clues to what is going on around you – and you had better sweat this small stuff because of it.

Ralf

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