Choking on your own words

15 06 2015

“I have learned to spell hors d’oeuvres, which still gets on some people’s n’oeuvres.” ~Warren Knox

Both of the times I took the StrengthsFinder test, my top strength was “Ideation”. One of the bullets under ideation said that I “probably enjoy the power of words, and that I likely really enjoy when a word combination “perfectly captures a concept, idea or pattern.”  When I read this, I was blown away, because it’s totally me.  Years ago, when asked what it was about my girlfriend that made me want her as my wife, my response was “among many other things, her vocabulary is hot”.

As leaders, though, we have to be careful about throwing around our “big words”.  Yes, it is fun (to me, anyway) to pop off a new word, and have your staff ask you what it meant – educating them to some cool new word is great, but it can get old.  If you’re walking around throwing around $10 words all day long, you’ll eventually be labeled by your team as elitist, a braggart, holier than thou, or some similar term.  Don’t flaunt your vocabulary to the point that you’re losing the connection with the front line staff.  Understand your audience, and speak to them in a way that creates a connection.  That connection is what you’ll need to have when you ask them to give a little extra effort so that the team can succeed.  If you use your big words to elevate yourself over your team, you might just end up hoist on your own petard.  🙂

Speaking of hors d’oeuvres…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.




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