In a small software development company, the team has been working tirelessly for weeks to meet a crucial deadline. On the due date, the leader calls a meeting to review the work. Despite the team’s hard work, there are some bugs that need fixing. The leader, visibly irritated, addresses the team:
“Frankly, I am disappointed. This work is riddled with errors and it’s clear that there’s a lack of attention to detail. We’ll miss the deadline and our client will be furious. I expect everyone to work overtime until these issues are resolved. This is unacceptable.”
A different leader would have said:
“I appreciate the hard work and long hours everyone has put into this project. We’ve come a long way, and the client is excited about what we’ve developed so far. However, we have stumbled upon some bugs that need our attention. I believe in our team’s capability to resolve these issues and meet our client’s expectations. Let’s tackle these challenges head-on and show what we’re made of. I’ll be right here with you, and together, we’ll get this done.”
The words we use can make all the difference. Both in the way they affect our own thinking but also in the way we’re perceived by others and the impact that follows. They can confuse or provide clarity, demotivate or inspire.