What Your Language Choices Say About You (And How to Shift To Powerful Speaking)

Have you ever caught yourself saying “I have to” do x or y?  Do you really HAVE to?  Do you want to do it?  What would it be like to say, “I want to” or “I’d love to”?

Or perhaps you’ve said, “I’ll try to.”  What are the odds of making it happen with this level of commitment?  Maybe you’re unsure if you can fit it into your schedule and you don’t want to overpromise.  That’s a good intention.  However, does it provide much assurance?  Not really.  What if you said, “Here is what I can promise….”

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

Often our language is unconscious.  We don’t realize what we are saying and how it is coming across to others.  Nor do we realize what our language also says about how we feel about something and how committed we are.

So, how could we communicate more powerfully?  The first step is awareness.  Dave Ellis, Master Coach, writes about the Ladder of Powerful Speaking in his book Falling Awake.

Dave Ellis' Levels of Powerful Speaking

Dave Ellis' Levels of Powerful Speaking

Notice when you start thinking “I should.”  Do you feel obligated?  Can you set a new boundary for yourself, without guilt?  Do you have to do it?  Yes, there are a few things, like taxes and bills that you should take care of, but there are many other things you can more freely choose to determine your level of commitment.

Does saying you should or ought to do something, inspire you to do so?  Does talking about all the things you might do or you’d like to do, move you toward action?  If have a passion to do something, do you notice that you are more likely to act?  No, no, and yes!  When you speak with passion and enthusiasm, you are more likely to put your energy into something.  Furthermore, when you plan to do something, you are guided by purpose and specific action steps.  And you got it, when you make a promise to do something, you are so committed to it that there are no other barriers: You are all in!

Take faithfulness in marriage, for example.  Notice the differences: “I ought to be faithful.”  “I hope to be faithful.”  “I’d like to be faithful.”  “I plan to be faithful.”  “I promise to be faithful.”

Or, “I should lose a few pounds.” “I’m considering losing a few pounds.” “I want to lose a few pounds.” “I’d love to lose a few pounds.” “I plan to lose a few pounds.” “I will lose a few pounds.”

If you aren’t on the promise rung of “I will/promise”, don’t beat yourself up.  Own it.  It isn’t a matter of jumping up the ladder; it’s a matter of figuring out where on the ladder you sit with respect to an issue.  Consider either what’s getting in your way or what it would mean for you to be on that rung.  For example, what would it mean to prioritize finding a new job?  Or, how would my life or future be better if exercised daily?  What would happen if I give up an obligation?  And be honest with yourself.  If you don’t feel it, you won’t get behind it, and you won’t do it. You will continue to be mired in duty and victimhood.

On the flip side, if you really want something, speak your plan and make a promise that’s iron clad.

Get more out of your life! Be true to yourself and make choices that you can get behind passionately.  Then, consciously choose the language that matches your intentions, communicating more clearly and powerfully than ever before! 



The Ways to Wisdom

On this historic day, I am yet again reminded of the universe’s ability to throw an unexpected curveball.  And in that, we all have a choice as to how we respond to that curveball, be it a landslide election, a job loss, a broken promise, or simply a very bad day. 

As I watched the news and observed reactions on social media, I saw fear, sadness, glee, and polarization.  At the same time, and following some powerful speeches, I also saw and heard graciousness, hope, inspiration and wisdom.  It is said that once you come to acceptance, peace will prevail and you can relax into the situation, put it aside and move on.

So, how exactly do you get there? The late cultural anthropologist and educator Angeles Arrien wrote about Four Ways to Wisdom. Essentially they are:

1.       The Way of the Warrior Show up, be visible and empower others through example.  The Warrior uses the power of presence and communication of the right message at the right time to lead others to receive it.

2.       The Way of the HealerPay attention to what is meaningful and access the power of love.  The Healer extends gratitude and acceptance that restores hope and wonder.

3.       The Way of the VisionarySpeak your authentic truth without judgment.  The Visionary brings their voice to the world and lives their purpose.  If the Healer doesn’t act with integrity, the healer will have betrayed him/herself.

4.       The Way of the TeacherBe open to, rather than be attached to, outcomes. The Teacher is flexible and learns how to trust states of not knowing.

The universal truths are that change is inevitable, life happens, and yes, sometimes life is not fair.  As we adjust to situations that we create ourselves or those that are thrust upon us, these Ways of Wisdom can be our goal posts.  You might ask yourself:

·         How do these ways show up in your life now? 

·         What could you do to bring more of the ways of wisdom into your life? 

·         What would it mean to you to be really present, to extend love, to give voice to what you see, or to put yourself out there trusting that the universe will ultimately make the final call?

Whether you connect most with the Warrior, the Healer, the Visionary, or the Teacher, these are all characteristics that you can embody every day and in moments that test you.  We all have the power to live in full choice.