Like a boomerang, in speaking you get back what you send out (e.g., words, tone of voice, emotions).
Do you ever ask yourself “What did I just say?”, “Did those words come from my mouth?” If you do, this is an indication that when you’re speaking you are reacting automatically (i.e., according to subconscious habits or behaviour patterns). Do you ever wish that you hadn’t spoken those words in the first place? If that’s the case, this could be an opportunity to change your habits by speaking more purposefully.
“The game of life is a game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later with astounding accuracy.” Florence Scovel Shinn
Take the example of Tara, a senior manager who was considerably stressed out at work because she feared that she and her team wouldn’t reach their goals. Her own boss frequently reminded her of the importance of the goals she had to achieve, which she interpreted as a warning that she had better succeed! Tara also believed she had a lot to prove having been recently promoted to a higher level within the company.
In her attempt to control the situation, she followed up with her team members constantly, often requesting updates in the minutiae. She frequently said things like, “Where are you with that deal? Tell me precisely! Did you follow up on that problem we discussed?”, with an exasperated and angry voice. Since starting the new job 9 months ago, it had become a routine.
At one point she became aware of the routine (as if observing herself from outside), and realised what her words and angry voice must sound like to her staff. Suddenly, she was witnessing their reactions, their confused facial expressions, and saw that they were frustrated and exasperated with her constant questioning.
Unwittingly, Tara was transmitting her anxiety to her staff through her angry reactions, which created stress for them and more stress for her. Like a boomerang, the stress and anxiety she was expressing through her voice was coming right back to her! With the awareness of this bad speaking habit, she decided to break it.
To break the habit, she set an intention to listen more carefully to her team members and her boss in order to understand them instead of judging them, and to trust that they would do their part of the work.
She also decided to have an open and honest conversation with her team about work stress, and how it was affecting them. She asked each employee, in turn, to share their own experience and feelings about it. Finally, she proposed that they co-design a better way of working together to alleviate stress and increase their success as a team.
Instead of reacting to her boss with stress and anxiety and passing it on to her staff in an attempt to survive, she began to speak and operate in a whole new way with the intention to thrive! By speaking purposefully, she sent out her boomerang with understanding and trust, and received more understanding and trust back.
What is speaking purposefully?
Speaking Purposefully is responding intentionally according to a desired result. It requires being fully present in the moment and listening in order to speak your truth. It’s having the courage to say what you really want to say, or to say what most needs to be said in the moment. It’s about speaking from the heart and mind, not just the mind.
Purposeful speaking begins with an intention (e.g., to understand, to be kind, to be true to yourself). Instead of just spitting out words that are running through your head, which are part of a repetitive thought-emotion-speech pattern (or subconscious habit), we can choose to speak purposefully. Instead of speaking from a knee-jerk reaction, we can pause to breathe, reflect, and respond creatively.
When we choose to speak in a focused and intentional way, we break the cycle of our repetitive thoughts, emotions and speaking patterns and create something we desire to have in our lives.
Purposeful speaking sets you apart from the rest. It’s all about BEING YOU, expressing your authentic voice in the moment with passion and purpose. In practicing purposeful speaking, you can live your values instead of stepping on them or allowing others to step on them.
Purposeful speaking is your chance to change, your chance to shine!
Suggestions for Taking Action
Become aware of your speaking habits. What words and emotions are you sending out every day? When/where/with whom are you constantly repeating yourself? Do you like what you’re getting back?
If you’re not happy with what you’re getting back…
1. Set an intention to change something about the way you speak for 1 week. Keep it simple, such as “Listen more”, “Be more relaxed”, “Speak up more”, “Slow down and breathe”.
2. Be in the present moment and follow through on your intention when speaking.
3. Observe yourself and the situation from outside. What do you notice?
4. What changed when you carried out steps 1-3?
Send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know how this works for you.
I’d love to hear from you!
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