How Powerful Are Your Words?


As a Leader: How Powerful Are Your Words?

By Paula Shoup

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

You can significantly shift your own and others’ power and energy by just changing a few words. This applies to both spoken words and the words in your head that never come out of your mouth.

Speaking More Powerfully

Read this out loud. Hear and feel the difference:

  • Why didn’t you complete the goal that you committed to last week?
  • What got in your way of you accomplishing your goal?

Of course, tone can also add or take away from powerful words, but you can feel the expansion and opening up to understand what is behind the issue by using the second question versus the words that close and create defensiveness in the first question. Avoid questions that start with “Why” because they often create defensiveness versus productive discussion.

Thinking More Powerfully

Consider these two thoughts:

  • I have to call a team meeting to discuss how we are going to roll out that new initiative.
  • I get to call a team meeting to discuss…

One little word change and yet the second thought leads to thoughts of gratitude for having the staff collaborate instead of the the heaviness of obligation.

When you are listening to one of your team members venting about an issue they are struggling with, notice your thoughts.  Shift them from internally complaining about their complaining to being fully present with your team and really trying to understand what they are going through.  Think about how you can help them. Shifting your own thoughts out of complaining and into fully listening will come across to them and might help shift them out of complaining, too.

Coaching Tip: For a day, just notice how your words are giving you and your team more or less power. Then, consider what words you can change for more impact, both in your speech and thoughts. Of course, this works with all your personal relationships, too!  

About the Author

Paula ShoupPaula Shoup 480-720-8340

Paula Shoup is an Executive and Team Coach who works with individuals and teams to guide them to extraordinary results. She is a prior corporate executive and uses her 20+ years of leading teams in her coaching and consulting business.