To Say it Like a Leader: Mind Your Arrows

If you’re looking to speak with more leadership presence, start by your reflecting on your sentence structure.  Yes, that’s right, your sentence structure.    

Imagine that each sentence you speak is an arrow. The arrow you use will impact the way others perceive you in communications.   What are your default arrows?   

The Leadership Arrow Leaders speak in straight arrows with short direct sentences.  They know their point and they make that point in a simple and straight forward way.  It has the impact of keeping things simple and easy to digest.  The result is they are seen as knowledgeable and clear.

The Qualifying Arrow  Some arrows reverse direction at the end.  Those arrows might look more like sideways fishing hooks and sound have….”if that makes sense” or “if you think that’s ok” or “I’m new here so..” tacked on the end.   The u-turn tip on this arrow is often some form of qualifier that undermines the confidence projected with the thought.  Followership and influence are the undermined with qualifying arrows.

The Scenic Route Arrow  These arrows start straight and then have a long bendy middle stretch where the thought deviates into a detail filled story with the possibility of a few tangents before it weaves back around to its point.   There are times and places for scenic route thoughts, however, one of their hazards is the attention of the other person is lost while you take that circuitous loop to your point.  

The Multi-Headed Arrow   A relative of the scenic route arrow, this arrow starts straight and suddenly bursts to have 3-5 points.  Somewhere after launching this arrow, instead of making one point in our thought, we share many or all our thoughts, at times even debating between them before the arrow lands.   Multi-Headed arrows can be confusing for others as they are not clear on which of these thoughts you intend for them to follow.  Additionally,  you, as the speaker, may not know that either.

The Up Flip Arrow  Though at times interesting and even lyrical to the ear, the up flip arrow takes a statement and ends it as if it were a question with an up inflection at the end.  Often, that flip up in tone at the end can cause the listener to wonder if you are solid and confident about what you’re saying because, for native English speakers in particular, it is heard as a question, even though you are making a statement.  

The Dotted Line Arrow  Um, like, you know, I think, these arrows are riddled with little habituated filler sounds and words that disrupt the cohesion of the arrow.  While at times a brief um pause, is a way to think, frequently used and repeated filler words end up stealing the show as often the listener gets distracted and even begins to count their frequency.  Uh, gasp!

If you’re looking to say it like a leader, reflect on how and when you use these various types of arrow and consider pulling that short straight Leadership Arrow out more often, or at least when the stakes are high.

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