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The Ledger - EST. 1978 - Nashville Edition

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VOL. 36 | NO. 36 | Friday, September 07, 2012

One thing to declare, another to act

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Declarations can change the way we see, hear, interpret and respond to the events in our lives. Words, in the form of declarations, have been used throughout history to change the course taken by entire groups of people.

One such aggregation of words, commonly referred to as the Declaration of Independence, initiated the formation of a new nation that has now lasted well over 200 years. With the utterance and agreement of just a few words on July 4, 1776, former colonists interpreted and responded to the actions of the British authorities quite differently.

As in the case with most declarations, the standards for appropriate and acceptable behavior before and after the declaration were forever altered.

On a more personal note, declarations also change the course of our individual lives. For example, by uttering words of commitment to another person followed by the statement “I do,” we totally change the meaning and context of our future actions.

But the power of words doesn’t depend solely on the declaration. The conversations after the declaration ultimately determine the power and longevity of the declaration. For example, in the case of marriage partners, early conversations are typically focused on what they like about one another.

If these positive conversations continue, the declaration remains powerful and intact. We all know this is not always the case. Sometimes the conversations gradually (sometimes as quickly as a Kardashian-minute) become more focused on what the partners do not like about each other.

The conversations become more about problematic past events than delightful future possibilities. Rather than supporting the declaration they begin to erode it. As a matter of fact, with married couples sometimes past likes become present irritants.

Here’s the point – after the declaration, the conversations become extremely important. In order for a nation to survive, a marriage to survive, or any form of commitment or entity launched by declaration to survive, two things must exist: the declaration must be clear and well communicated and the subsequent conversations must support the original declaration. This is true with nations, with marriages, and it is true with your business.

As a leader of your business, what would you say if someone asked you to articulate your organizational declaration? In other words, what is your Declaration of Business purpose? And what kind of conversations are going on among your employees? Are the conversations about your business inspiring or demotivating? Are these conversations primarily problem-oriented or solution-oriented? What can you do to clarify and better communicate your declaration? What can you do to at least tilt the conversations in favor of supporting your declaration?

I’m not implying that you should ignore problems and complaints. I’m just suggesting that as a leader you should work hard to tilt the conversations in favor of inspiring people and solution-oriented strategies. And here is the kicker: either way this is a no-cost strategy that can create significant and lasting benefits. Change the conversations going on in your business and you can change your business – for better or worse.

Chris Crouch is CEO of DME Training and Consulting and author of several books on improving productivity. Contact him through www.dmetraining.com.