Words … words … words

Language is never innocent.

Words are only innocent when in a dictionary … maybe.

Add in tone, inflection, body language, facial expressions and total chaos communication-wise is likely to erupt.

Pile on how the words are received, the receiver’s mood, meaning attributed and goodness knows what mayhem occurs.

This is where the fun begins.

This is where ‘Google translate’ might come in useful.

A mirror might help. A trusted observer to mediate might be needed.

And now in 2020 we have virtual communication to add into the mix via a whole variety of platforms.

What is the answer to this conundrum of the language we use?

Simple or is it?

Take us people out of the equation thus removing the emotional aspect?

What happens when it’s the written word? Those email that whizz about causing intentional or unintentional havoc.

Is it all about interpretation? How we perceive meaning? The assumptions that we read into what is written or said?

What judgements are you making as you read this?

What assumptions are colouring your understanding, your preparedness to give these thoughts a chance?

How might you dismiss aspects along the lines of ‘I would never do that! But I know someone who does?’

Ooops! we all do it. How can we have clean language? Both delivering and receiving?

A great start is to become conscious of what we say, how we say it, how we mean it.

Another great start is to become conscious of how we hear / read what is said? The meaning we give to it. The interpretation we dive into. The ‘what we think we heard’ piece.

The hardly listening already speaking trap we revel in which means we don’t hear what is said because we are already planning how to reply / counter argue / over-ride with our certainly more brilliant idea.

And then we wonder why we get misunderstood. Assert that not’s what I meant.

What follows on page 2 are two fun, revealing, salutary, fascinating exercises to use as an icebreaker:

  1. Words/phrases to say in a negative manner – what happened? What did you notice? Share with colleagues.
  2. Words / phrases to give one message with body language and tone a different message. Again what happened? What did you notice? Share with colleagues.

How might these two exercises help you become more aware, more conscious of how you communicate  and the effect that communication has? You may have other phrases to add to the two lists.


To say in a negative manner: Words give one message: Body language and tone saying another

Well done.


Can I have that document now please.

This is a good piece of work.

My door is always open.

The client was delighted.

How are you?

Have a good weekend.

Please can you do this for me.

Have you got any questions?

That’s interesting.

That’s fascinating.

Anything you need to know?

Want any help with that?

Everything alright?

You can ask me for help any time.

This is fun.


It’s been good to work with you.

I’m sure you will

Hope we meet again.

Look forward to it.

I’ll be with you in a moment

I’m open to suggestions.

I’m listening.

Interesting point of view.

I’ll look into right away & get back to you.

Oh …. bad luck.

This is an enjoyable part of my job.

Good idea, it’s worth considering.

Pleased to meet you.

I agree it’s very important.

Appraisals are opportunities to raise any issues.

You can be open with me.

It’s a great pleasure to be here.

Take your time.

Can I help you?

That’s terrible.

That’s absolutely fine, no problem.

Have I kept you waiting?

There was a deadline you know

I’m really busy

Going home early again

Can we have a quick chat

It will only take you a few moments