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SpeakSTRONG Step #4: How to Own Your Words

Once you know what your essential message is and you've transformed it into it's highest expression, make sure you are willing to back your words up with action. Mean what you say. It protects the power of your words. 

Make your words your bond

SpeakSTRONG Step 4

She means what she says

Wendy Mack and I are colleagues and hiking buddies. Wendy takes her word seriously. When I invited her to coauthor a book with me, she was very clear about what she was able to commit to. Whenever we have a date to go hiking, she shows up within a few minutes of the exact time.

One sunny day I waited outside for Wendy to arrive. When she didn’t show up as promised, I knew something important had delayed her. I had a message on my answering machine and an email explaining the emergency that had waylaid her. Wendy says what she’ll do and does what she says. She means what she says, so I never find myself interpreting or second-guessing her words. If she doesn’t mean it, I know she doesn’t say it.

Marry your words before you speak them

Step 4 of the SpeakSTRONG Method is to own your words. That means,

  1. Pledge to protect the power of your words by considering your word your bond. While you don't need to be fanatical about it, take your own words seriously.
  2. Get specific. “Put the boots by the door.” Commit to things people can measure.
  3. Increase your commitment to REALLY mean what you say.
  4. Plan. Be concrete about how you’ll walk your talk. Don't just let good intentions guide your words. 
  5. Say it like you mean it: with the courage of conviction. 

Pledge to protect the power of your words by considering your word your bond.

Begin with a pledge to protect the power of your words. Make a commitment to be a Character-based Communicator. Make a vow to consider your word your bond and to walk your talk.  Swear off ego and personality-based communication and embrace Character-based Communication. Reaffirm this intention continually. Refuse to say something you’re half-HEARTED about.

Get specific. Put the boots by the door.

I’m an amateur songwriter. The best tip anyone ever gave me was to put the boots by the door. He was telling me to create concrete lyrics that paint solid images in the minds of my listeners. I’ve been “putting boots by the door” in my writing ever since. I’ve also learned to put boots by the door in my conversations. Instead of saying “let’s do lunch,” I say “I’ll call you by Friday to set a lunch date for next month.” Instead of saying “I’ll get back to you soon,” I say, “I’ll get back to you by Friday.” Put the boots by the door of your message. Make your abstractions concrete enough that you can be held accountable.

Increase your commitment to REALLY mean what you say.

Check yourself for doubt and uncertainty. Determine your commitment level. If you’re not completely committed to walk your talk, reconsider. Say something you CAN commit to instead. If you don’t mean it, don’t say it.

Plan. Be concrete about how you’ll walk your talk.

It’s nice to be all fired up about an idea, but make sure you CAN walk your talk before you speak. Intention is all very nice, but after too many unmet intentions, people will learn to dismiss what you say. Don’t invest the power of your words until you’ve thought through the detail of delivering.

Say it like you mean it: with the courage of conviction

Courage comes from the French word Coeur, which means heart. Once you’ve found words that are worthy of you, say them like you mean them. Watch out for anything that suggests weak resolve or non-commitment. You’ve worked hard to create a message you believe in. Now make sure that conviction comes across in how you say what you mean.

Ownership is leadership

Leaders own their words and what results from them. Victims make excuses and weasel around the issues and tyrants project and blame. Owning your words is a sign of leadership. It’s also a sign of character. Character-based Communication works.

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