The Currency of Career Success … Words …

By Nancy Fredericks


Nancy Fredericks pens Women Lead Change's "Mindful Mondays" column, appearing the second Monday of every month. Fredericks is a preeminent Business Executive Strategist, Author and Thought Leader. Corporations like Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Adobe, Allergan and Transamerica have retained her to optimize individual and organizational performance. You can find her at The views of Nancy Frederick's blogs represent her own and not necessarily the views of Women Lead Change.

Words have immense power. Research indicates that how we phrase things can influence our brain’s response, either supporting or limiting growth. This phenomenon underscores the importance of words in shaping your professional success. And it’s a function of the brain’s innate hardwiring.

It’s why we can learn, adapt, and grow throughout life.

There’s no question that our words are powerful. When used with proficiency, they can transform the viewpoint of others and initiate positive interactions that motivate and inspire employees. Or, your choices can be ineffective, and employees may become discouraged, disheartened, and detached from
participating in delivering positive results for you and the company.

All of this has a two-fold impact on you. Your words affect not only the workforce you manage but also how your organization gauges the significance of your future.

Knowing this, you can use this realization to your advantage.

Let’s explore this issue a bit more:

Harnessing The Influence Of Self-Talk: Research reveals that our brains tend to remember and hold onto the negatives in our lives far longer than the positives. That means, if left unchecked, we would spiral downward into insecurity and low self-esteem—not good for a thriving career. Hold dear to your heart the compliments and kudos you receive to counteract this phenomenon. More importantly, habitually remind your brain of your wins through the positive internal dialogue you generate. Unquestionably, cultivating a positive self-dialogue will bolster your career results.

Success Arises Beyond Expertise And Productivity:  Yes. Executives get their initial job based on their knowledge and how well they contribute to profitability… that’s their entrance fee. After that, the lynchpin for career success rests more on how you communicate what you know and your ability to engage your workforce in performing great and glorious deeds. Most of which rests on the words you use to state your positions. Your soft skills, ability to produce results through others, future thinking, creative/innovative competency, and many more nuanced skills determine your future success.

The Pitfalls Of Unconscious Perceptions: Intentionality goes a long way in how others receive your message, either negatively or positively. Do you find some of your communications lands poorly? Then, it’s time to do a language audit. Listen to the words you’re using with your heart checking your language, so that you don’t face unintended consequences.

  • Do your unconscious biases emerge in your conversations with employees? Any insensitivity on your part generates barriers detrimental to creating an adaptable culture, which harms fostering creativity and innovation.
  • Do your words come more from a pessimistic viewpoint than an optimistic one? Pessimism spreads like wildfire in a company, particularly if it emanates from managers or senior leaders. And it isn’t good for business. Optimism produces very different results as it keeps you and others motivated to discover new solutions … builds resiliency (the number one desired leadership quality) … experiences higher levels of self-esteem… more able to achieve goals. These dynamic factors emerge from an optimistic view, support your career success, and aid in building resilience in others. 
  • Do your words focus more on corrective or appreciative observations? Yes, we all know that even though, it’s hard to do, staff needs to know what they’re not doing right. Negative feedback must occur for the good of your employees, even though, according to Zenger Folkman, 44 percent of managers said that providing critical feedback was difficult and stressful. In another study 21 reported that they avoided it altogether. But if you only express improvement measures without appreciation, you’ll not produce positive results. A Nectar survey estimates that 98 percent of employees who receive recognition daily feel valued by their employer. With your workload, daily may seem impossible. Why not test out a Gap Appreciation Goal—A “Shoot-For” Ambition of every day, with a promise of no less than “Weekly?”

I love it when we address the subject of self-discovery for career success together. Yet it’s a big waste of my time and yours unless you choose to change one less-than-stellar area of yours to transform it into mastery. What do you intend to take on?

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