Chapter 6. Commitment language


This chapter covers

  • How to use commitment language to focus your team
  • Using commitment language to meet milestones
  • How to use commitment language to build a successful team

Specific words and phrases can be used by a team leader to discover hidden issues with accomplishing tasks and alleviate the problem of people telling you what they think you want to hear, rather than the truth.

To understand how commitment language works, we need to talk about personal integrity. When we practice personal integrity, we

1.  Say we’ll do it

2.  Mean what we say

3.  Do it (or raise a red flag)

Creating a language of commitment is about getting people to agree to something and mean it (or explain why they can’t commit). The first part—agreeing to something—is part of our everyday conversation. We say we’ll do stuff all the time, but often we only half-mean it, or we’re unsure we can accomplish it.

Creating a language of commitment is one of the first steps toward developing team members who keep their promises. Changing the way we speak to each other is important. The language we use every day is ambiguous enough that we can feel like we said the right thing, while still feeling uncommitted to it.

What does noncommittal sound like?

Have you noticed the way you make promises? Look for words that leave room to not accomplish something:

What does commitment sound like?

Is it under your control?

Commit to things under your control

Turn an impossible commitment into a possible one

How do you get them on board?

What if they fail to meet their commitments?

Finishing the commitment conversation

Look for “by,” not “at”

Where to use this language

Next up