Changing your habits at work doesn’t have as much to do with work as you might think. For advice on how to be more effective in becoming more productive, we turn to the world of dieting.
An article from The Detroit Free Press offered some advice for language in weight loss:
Avoid “should” and “have to” statements. Saying “I shouldn’t eat fries” or “I have to eat some chocolate” will make you feel deprived or out of control. If you’re “choosing” not to eat the food, you have more power and less guilt.
Don’t say you’re “on a diet.” Look at good eating as a permanent lifestyle switch: “I’ve changed my diet.”
Don’t trash yourself. You wouldn’t tell a friend she’s weak, ugly or a bad person because she is struggling with her weight. Offer yourself the same positive encouragement.
We’ve written dozens of articles about the role of language. If you want to change your ways, one of the most critical aspects of improvement is to use words that are affirming and supportive. These ideas not only boost your own self-confidence but those around you too.
There’s an even more subtle and more powerful factor at work than just the positive influence of upbeat words. When we talk about work using empowering language, we actually help other stakeholders to better understand our needs and create the foundation for increased mutual respect. Consider these statements that you might overhear at the typical office:
Wow, I’m so far behind on this project. I’ve already blown one deadline and I think I’m going to miss another.
I shouldn’t go to lunch with you. I’ve got a lot of work to catch up on.
I understand that you’ve got a lot on your plate. Never mind, I can take care of this task for you.
If those were phrases about dieting instead of work, it would be easy to see why they limit success. Consider these alternate versions:
I’m making progress on this project. We’ve had to adjust to some unexpected circumstances, but I’m pleased to report that we have adapted and are continuing to press forward.
I would love the chance to join you for lunch. However, I have some scheduled work I’m doing right now. Want to set up an appointment to go out later this week?
I appreciate what you do for the organization. Is there something that I can take off your plate that will help all of us be more productive?
There is a striking parallel between improving our physical health and improving workplace productivity. In both cases, we don’t just need new behaviors, we may also need to use smarter language. Change the way you speak to help change the way you work. To learn more, contact our business process improvement consultants today!