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EQ Impact: "Intent does not supersede impact."

Proper mindset, Proper time, Proper perspective, Proper intention – the complete ingredient list for carefully choosing the right words to make an IMPACT...not a subtle insult.

Words have power. Words spoken verbally in a meeting, words written in an e-mail, even words thought silently to ourselves.

The words we use to shape our lives and the lives of others are often irreversible. Self-regulation plays a crucial role in fostering intentionality in communication, particularly within the workplace environment. By practicing self-regulation, individuals gain the ability to monitor and control their verbal expressions, ensuring that their words are deliberate, appropriate, and effective in professional settings.

We must realize that words communicated carelessly must be taken back with effort. Even if we can walk back or correct our comments, the hurt will likely linger long after the hurtful words have been made to disappear. 

"Intent does not supersede impact."


In the workplace, words spoken or written in haste may have career-ending consequences, costly organizational consequences, Or embarrassing legal consequences. Leaders do not have the luxury of saying things they might regret later. As a leader, you must choose your words carefully. You must be intentional!


Choosing carefully the words you use for others requires paying attention to the words, the timing, and the audience. Some words or phrases are off-limits and should never be used in an organizational context. Some words or phrases are just plain rude. Some words or phrases are considered microaggressions – which could have serious consequences. The right words spoken at the wrong time can create a hostile atmosphere.

Women sitting on couch with a thinking look on her fa
Women sitting on couch with a thinking look on her face

As we March out of Black History Month and March into Women's History Month, I am reminded two months in a row how I am overlooked. I never want to think that I am overlooked because I am a woman, much less a woman of color. But I worked for a leader(s) where I sometimes always needed to figure out how I was viewed for my career and, quite frankly, my sanity and emotional health.


I recall a leader pulling me aside just after I had delivered a report to the board. He said, "You did not sound as peppy as usual. The words you used didn't sound peppy." Let that sink in.


In addition to the implicit insult or microaggression of having my contribution judged based solely on whether I sounded bouncy and vibrant despite my 20 years, at that time, of professional experience, his words were inappropriate because the news we had just delivered to the board was not good. He wanted the words to give "good" even though the information was not. The leader could have reframed his real message by saying, "The board report should have been focused more on future opportunities than on recent challenges." I am one to share the truth no matter how it may sting, BUT I would have received this statement as an invitation to engage and discuss strategy for reporting and oversight. 

Instead, I was left with the impression that my sole value in his eyes was as a cheerleader or propagandist.

Women sitting on couch looking pensive

 When you choose your words as a leader, pay attention to the situation and the person, as well as to yourself, your tone, and your body language. Choose words that will positively shape your way. Examine your motives. Before opening your mouth or pulling up to your keyboard, seek to answer two questions: "Why am I saying this?" and "How will this statement serve me?" 

Even in our communication, self-regulation facilitates cultivating empathy and sensitivity towards diverse perspectives and communication styles. By actively monitoring their language, individuals can avoid unintentional biases, microaggressions, or insensitive remarks that may inadvertently alienate or offend colleagues. This awareness fosters a more inclusive and harmonious workplace environment conducive to collaboration and mutual respect.

In addition, this is key in your self-awareness journey.

Let's be Emotionally Brilliant (96.8% of the time!)🥴!

Nicole - Emotional Intelligence Expert
Nicole F. Smith, M.Ed.



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