Dan Rockwell of LeadershipFreak.com noted that, “Strong leaders leverage disagreements while weak leaders win arguments,” is powerful. I think his observation is analogous to “winning the battle but losing the war.”

Words have meaning(s). It may seem elementary, or like a truism, but that “s” at the end of the word can be a challenging (and sometimes difficult to diagnose) cause of arguments. Sometimes one open-ended question that can be powerful is, “What do you mean by the word/phrase, [insert phrase here]?” I’ve seen programs reach a near-impasse’ over a couple of divisive, emotionally-charged, or power-packed words, when replacing that word with another word can return the team to equilibrium. Teams sometimes benefit from sharing a common lexicon and using them consistently over time.

Behold, the power of nuance.

1st published, August 17, 2010 on Leadership Freak.