Precise Language ➠ Fewer Problems?

The more precise we become in the language we use, the fewer problems we create for ourselves.


Recently, a dear friend was telling me that her daughter doesn’t test well. When I asked if her struggles were related to essay tests, she said no…but her daughter did have trouble writing clearly. This exchange brought to mind a technique I used to become more precise in my language and more effective in promoting my ideas.

I had very little sales training or experience when I started my business providing part-time CFO services. As a result, I would replay my sales calls immediately following the call. I would look first to the instances when what I said created excitement and I’d make a mental note to use that language again in future calls.

During the second replay of the call I’d look to the instances in which I lost the prospect’s interest or when I created so much confusion that their eyes glazed. Then I’d consider what language I could have used that would have avoided losing their interest or confusing them and I’d test that language in future calls.

Lessons learned

There are several lessons I learned from this exercise that have been very beneficial to me over the years, the lessons are:

  • I can mentally replay an hour-long conversation in a matter of minutes.
  • If, in the initial replay, I focus on the times when I created excitement, it’s easier for me to be candid with myself when I’m reviewing instances of lost interest and confusion.
  • As I become more precise in my language, life gets easier, i.e. I create fewer problems for myself.

I suggested to my friend that she share this approach with her daughter so that her daughter would become more adept at organizing her thoughts before communicating and, in the process, become more precise in her language and more effective in her communications.

For you

I offer the same suggestion to you. You don’t have to review every conversation…just the ones when you didn’t get the desired result. Using the above approach, you’ll not only improve future communications, you’re likely to find a way to open the door to previous discussions that weren’t as productive as you’d have liked.

Keep in mind that the other parties involved must be open to other perspectives. If they are rigid in their thinking, if they’re convinced that they’re right and there’s nothing that will dissuade them of that belief, you’ll be wasting your time and energy in trying to continue a discussion with them.

For our kids

When kids complain that others aren’t listening to them or that others don’t understand, share with them the approach outlined above. You’ll make their entire lives much easier. Isn’t that something we all strive to do…make life easier for our kids?

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