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Language we use – help or hinder?

Do the words we use generate the reaction we want or actually get in the way? A brief look into a few words that we would be better off eliminating from our vocabulary........

As a coach I am tuned in when I work with others to notice the language they use when they speak about themselves or about others. I have noticed over time that a slight change in a word that we use can make a massive difference. Let me give you an example, the other day I was working with a new client and towards the end of the session she said she must do something as a result of what we’d been speaking about. My antennae were twitching and I just said “must?” yes I really must was the response. So I then said “is it a must or want to….?” Silence, which is always great as I know that’s when someone is doing better thinking. 

“ooh I want to.” Which was said which came with more determination and commitment to the thing. And I have no doubt that when we speak next time she will have done what it was that we were talking about, where as the must response I wouldn’t have been so confident. 

So, what is it that makes such a difference? MUST or SHOULD comes with a weighty feeling about it, that we feel obliged to do it out of duty rather than choice. if we choose to do something we feel freer and that we’ve decided something rather than feeling some other force is making us do something. 

Here’s another example, take something simple like my admin at the end of each week / month that is required in my business. It’s not what I enjoy I’d rather be working with people and helping them or training or creating new ideas, I found the admin doesn’t play to my strengths and often takes quite a bit of energy, thus my resistance to doing it.  For months when I first set up my business, over 12 years ago I fought it and put it off and then ended up doing it on a Sunday once a month as I was so far behind and I was even more begrudged about doing it. Then I thought  I really should do this differently and came up with a few ideas on how to change it but that wasn’t really successful and I still kept putting it off. It’s a bit like what we do with our health we probably say to ourselves we should exercise and then don’t.

So I did some better thinking and noticing what I was saying to myself and also the impact of me not doing the admin work more regularly, it was making the enjoyable part of the job become more challenging and difficult because things weren’t organised or the cash flow wasn’t as good as it could be as I wasn’t invoicing regularly enough, which then had another impact on how I felt I’m working really hard but it seems that the reward doesn’t reflect the effort.

The rethink and self coaching noticed my language and how it was making me feel which was totally getting in the way. My new approach was to start talking differently to myself and to create a different perspective. I recognised that the regular approach to the admin helped free up more time to enable me to do the things I enjoyed more freely without things going wrong due to poor planning and organisation, cash flow improved and I felt that the work I was doing was worthwhile. So what do I say to myself “ I choose to this because I know it helps me be of my best.” 


Julie Hickton

Julie Hickton

Managing Director

With over 25 years working with people and organisations as an executive coach, HR Director and mum, I have an excellent understanding of people and what they need to enable them to reach their full potential and have high levels of psychological wellbeing. We all have the ability to develop and grow, coaching provides an excellent opportunity to support individuals and teams achieve their aspirations and raise their levels of happiness. Interested in reading more about who I am and how I work...... Trained as an executive coach, therapeutic coach, team coach, thinking partner. Expertise and trained in; positive psychology, emotional intelligence, compassion and self compassion, various psychometric tools, NLP and therapeutic coaching.