Productive Words

Quote of the Week

“I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific.”
— Lily Tomlin

Productive Words

by Don Wetmore

A lot of productivity is lost because we use unproductive language.

We are often vague and then we are misunderstood causing our results to be diminished.

For example, when you agree to complete a task “as soon as possible”, thinking that means within the month, the person you are committing to may think that means within the week. And when the week goes by and you have not delivered you are in a bad light because of a misunderstood deadline.

When you ask someone, “When do you want this done?” you are likely to hear, “Now! Today!” because most people are operating under a false sense of urgency. But when you ask, “When do you need it?” you generally get a deadline that is at a later time, giving you more time to complete the task.

More specific language leads to more productivity.

Copyright (c) 2008 all rights reserved. Don Wetmore can be reached at

Coaching Call to Action

Time and time again, I have clients call to talk about co-workers or direct reports who don’t do what they are “supposed” to do when they are “supposed” to do it. Don’s article nails this issue on the head. Vague timelines or descriptions can get us into trouble. We use our assumptions, the recipient of our directions uses their assumptions and the two are not aligned. This week be more specific with your words and requests. Do the results change?