Friday, March 13, 2009

Our chosen language...

No... not the programming language.
Not even English vs. French/Spanish/etc.

Language... as in tone, rhetoric, choice of words.
Is yours offensive, passive, strong, dull?

Some people are inspired by strong words, some people are offended by it. Attention is grabbed with certain words, but what kind of attention?

What do you use in your daily conversations with others?

Why does this matter?

If you are a leader (an agile coach, scrum master, tech lead)... then this is important. As a leader, you mentor constant change. For this to be successful, positive change... you have to insure the team as a whole is working together. To do this, you have to sell the idea, plant seeds, mold minds.

You are the salesman. You make the pitch.

Pick your words carefully.

This post was inspired by the struggles of my esteemed mentor in the pushback on the word "sucks" as part of his presentation title at Agile 2009. Here is a portion of my thoughts back to him:
I totally understand your predicament. I agree with you that words like "suck" and "crap" have been used at our agile conferences (in keynotes) in a manner the implies they are accepted. Strong words to invoke strong emotions. I tend to get in trouble as an agile coach when I use strong emphatic words... they do catch attention, but not everyone is comfortable with their strength (and implied negative connotation)...

... I think the lesson here is that [strong] language IS acceptable to put the final nail in a point being made, but maybe not acceptable as a way to introduce it. It is acceptable within a controlled and known audience, but not to the world at large. Personally, I don't like this... but I've accepted that being a good coach/presenter is being a good salesman... which is knowing your audience and exposure and adapting to it.

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