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Communicate with purpose

Next time you're ready to respond emotionally and impulsively, take a step back and think about what you really want to communicate.

4 min read




Lead Change is a leadership media destination with a unique editorial focus on driving change within organizations, teams, and individuals. Lead Change, a division of Weaving Influence, publishes twice monthly with SmartBrief. Today’s post is by David Nielson.


What is the purpose of your message? What do you hope it will achieve? Providing facts, queries, responses, greetings, invitations, etc. Regarding email messages, there is nothing worse than sending (or receiving) a revenge email. When you are upset and want to dump all of your thoughts and emotions, do not write an email. If you have to write your feelings, use pencil and paper — and then a shredder. Never underestimate the power of words. They can cut or they can elevate — and they can haunt if used harshly.

Are your messages consistent with your purpose? Are the words and ideas you include consistent with your personal brand? You do not want your differentiation motto to be, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Or worse, “Do as I do, not as I say.” This causes confusing messages that can hurt your credibility or trustworthiness. Be consistent. Remember, the internet is forever. Whatever you put out there is likely to be out there for as long as the Internet exists. You can bury it, but you can never really delete it.

Be sure you pay attention to what you say on social media. You are what you tweet! Employers vet people through social media. What are you posting? Is it consistent with the company brand? News travels fast, and social media travels at the speed of light. There is no real privacy in emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other online social media platform. You can always hit the delete key before you post something, but once it’s out there, it’s out there. You are judged by what and how you write.


Ask yourself: “What is my emotional state right now and how might it influence what I’m about to say or write?”

You not only have to be aware of the words you use but the emotions and state of mind behind them. Even though written language does not convey emotional states as do verbal and visual communication, it still has an emotional state that can bleed through. Take time to consider your frame of mind and check your gut. If you’re reacting out of anger or hurt or without having all the facts, hold off sending that text, email, fax or letter. It can save so much grief and misunderstanding.

If there is not a time element to a communication, type it and then walk away from it for a bit. Come back and read it with fresh eyes. Remember, once you send it, it’s gone. Also, take time to edit for spelling and typos; your work reflects on your work ethic.

Social awareness

What is my intent in saying or writing this? What impact do I want to make on the recipient(s)?

Use the best, most articulate words for maximum impact. People are being bombarded with communications from every angle every day and night. From texting and instant messaging to Facebook and Twitter, not to forget billboards, television, radio, YouTube and the millions of websites yearning to grab your attention. Society is overflowing with written and spoken words. Choose carefully how you present yourself to the world through your words and speech.

Tip: The following do not create positive effects when writing professionally:

Words have impact. Use them wisely and correctly.

Now what?

  1. Improve your vocabulary. Learn a new word every day. There are calendars that can help you. Use the word in the sentence at least three times, and you will own the word. Do crossword puzzles. This is an excellent way to build vocabulary. When you are reading, have a dictionary nearby. Don’t just gloss over words you don’t know; look them up.
  2. Video record yourself with both prepared remarks and extemporaneous talk. How effective did it look to you? What did you like/dislike/ want to change?

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” ~ Plato


David Nielson brings over four decades of corporate, Fortune 500, and private consulting experience in organizational change management and leadership development. Nielson has helped guide large-scale change initiatives and business strategy driven by ERP, mergers, restructuring and executing cultural change. His latest book is “The 9 Dimensions of Conscious Success.”

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