How Important is Your Languaging as a Leader?


Leaders live and die by the commitments that they make, the conversations they have, and the specific words and languaging they use. 

And, if you read the book, The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz, the first agreement is to ‘be impeccable with your word’. Being impeccable is simply to use your words for good, not to put ‘spells’ on others (which happens). Being impeccable with your word is also about doing what you say you are going to do, then doing it. 

And finally, being impeccable with your word relates to taking time to choose languaging that doesn’t have a hidden meaning. As a leader, as much as you think you are hiding what you really think, guess what, you aren’t …  

See, the human brain somewhere over the last few thousand (or more maybe) have associated an unconscious meaning with specific words, and although most people have never stopped to think about what the words they are using really mean, the listener is really clear (in their heart – without having to think) what they mean … 

So, what are the top three words to take out of your leadership languaging, if you want to be more effective, more respected, and more authentic?  


The word just is such a throwaway line and is a word that just undervalues everything that comes after it. Just has the effect of making something less important that it really is (I am just a …), and it means that you are trying to deliberately talk down the real situation (it’s just a five-minute job …). 

Most of the times in leader conversations, you really don’t need this word. It is a filler, at best, and a nuisance at worst. 


This word is so detrimental. Every time I hear someone say how busy they are, I just think, I wonder why it is so important that everyone on the planet knows you have got a lot on. And, I really do understand that everyone is busy these days. Totally.  

When you tell your team how busy you are, two things are happening; firstly, you are making excuses for not getting work done, and second, you are getting people off side, because seriously, most people don’t really care how busy you are … seriously.  

I’m too busy means ‘sorry, you are not my priority right now’. 

Personally, I use productive, or something similar, and try my hardest not to use it as an excuse for not getting work done! 


One of my favourites – this means that you have just told a lie. Everything that comes before the word but it a lie, and that is what people hear. 

It is a simple matter of changing the word out for the word and. Don’t believe me, though, try it and see what happens … 

This is how most leaders ask their team for support: 

Hey Jenny, could you please just get this quick job done for me, I know you are busy, and so am I, but it really needs to get done asap … 

Leader languaging takes effort, it takes work. It does, though, reap huge rewards. Check your languaging and watch your leadership change. 

Anton Guinea is the safety leadership expert. His journey is unique, having survived a workplace incident which he transformed from a cautionary story into powerful, psychology-based safety programs that has moved the hearts and minds of organisations globally. 
For 15 years, Anton has worked with over 150+ businesses and their leaders, to help make safety safe; safe to talk about, to engage in, and to report about. Working in the space of where Safety meets Leadership, Anton founded The Guinea Group as the safety support network to help businesses to LEADsafe365.
Get in touch with Anton today.

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