My son, Ethan, taught me a really valuable lesson when he was little – although he doesn’t know it. But this valuable lesson wasn’t just a lesson for me as a parent, it’s a lesson I took into my leadership communication. When Ethan was little, I’d look over and see him, he might be struggling with a toy or as he was learning to read, write, or even color, I’d see him struggling. And as his mom, I wanted to help him.

I wanted to let him know I’m there to do whatever he needs. I didn’t want him to feel alone, so I would just let him know, “Hey, Ethan, let me know if you need any help. Hey, Ethan, let me know if you need me.” And just, one day I really heard what I was saying. And that word “need” really popped out at me, and it got me questioning, how is that word potentially impacting Ethan? Is it maybe making him question, have some self-doubt as if he can’t do this on his own?

That he might lack some confidence because he might be feeling that he always needs, whether it’s mom or somebody else. So I quickly changed that, started to change how I phrased it into things like, “Hey, let me know if you would like help. Hey, I’m here, let me know if you want something, if I can support you.” Just removing that word need, and I took that into the corporate world.

This is one of the things that when we’re coaching and training on communication, we talk about the power of even just a simple word.

So think about what that impact could be, if you were to just simply change how you offer support to someone else. I know you’ve got the best of intentions, that you might tell a co-worker, a direct report, maybe even your manager, “Hey, let me know if you need me. Let me know if you need help.” And you’re doing it with the best of intentions, but your intentions may not come across that way.

Especially if you are communicating with your direct reports. That could be implying again, some self-doubt that you have in their capabilities. And we certainly don’t want that to be the message. We want to have our direct reports be strong and feel confident, but we want to balance that with you showing as their manager, as their leader, that you are there should they want your help.

Changing that word “need” to potentially just even want, “Hey, let me know if you would like or want any support. I’m here, let me know if you get caught up in anything or have a question.” Try to rephrase how you offer support by removing the word need, and see how that potentially impacts the receiver, as well as just you, the communicator, and how you deliver that. That’s what we’re here to do, is unlock that X factor to make you the best communicator possible!