As a teammate or team leader, you know that choosing the right words to use can improve teamwork and performance.
The wrong words can be devastating to team morale and individual engagement – but when you use winning phrases you can have a significant positive impact on your team culture.
What you may not be aware of is how your subconscious choice of words – pronouns and prepositions that you may believe are unimportant – can actually have a powerful effect on the performance of your people.
First, consider the prepositions you use in conversations with your teammates.
Most coworkers give insights into the team culture by how they describe the way they work:
Disconnected teammates will say “I work NEAR / BESIDE Bob”
Connected teammates will say “I work WITH Bob”
And when it comes to pronouns, one of the more interesting TED talks I’ve seen recently gives research-based evidence that the words you use in speech and email can not only identify your status… but can have an impact the way others perform around you.
The Secret Life of Pronouns is an 18:00 presentation by James Pennebaker…
His short talk shares how the “smallest, most commonly used, most forgettable words serve as windows into our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. The ways people use pronouns, articles, and other everyday words are linked to their personality, honesty, social skills, and intentions.”
The most important job of any leader is finding ways to shift the focus of their people from self-focused to team focused.
Great leaders never stop working to get their organization to move from the default and often dysfunctional “I and me” to the far more exceptional and effective “WE and US.”
And one thing that helps to CHANGE the pronouns your people use is the questions they ask and the things they focus on.
Average and struggling teams will ask
“What’s in it for ME?
“How can I look good in this situation?”
But truly special, high-performing teams are often asking themselves this:
“What Does the Team Need?”
The shift in focus away from self and to the greater whole is the key determiner of team performance!
SO how do you SHIFT your team’s pronouns?
Well, all culture is the result of repeated behaviors, and to change behaviors you must change beliefs… and the change beliefs you must improve awareness – and awareness is the result of the experiences we have had as individuals.
So – want a better culture?
Want more team-focused pronoun usages in your organization?
Consider the impact of a team building event and the fun, intentional insights it can deliver.
The changes you want to see in your results begin with change in the awareness and focus of your team members.