March 8, 2022

Choosing the Right Words with Terre Short

by Hacker Valley Studio

Show Notes

We believe you are what you listen to -- including the personal podcast that is playing in your head every day. What is it saying to you? Our guest Terre Short excels at distilling leadership skills into actionable steps and choosing the right words to inspire others and giving ourselves the words we need to move forward.

 

Guest Bio:

Terre Short is a human potential developer who has more than 30 years of leadership experience, a Masters in Business Administration/Healthcare Management, and her Professional Coach Certification (PCC). She coaches leaders on tactics to raise engagement and improve retention. She also leans on the content in her book, “The Words We Choose: Your Guide to How and Why Words Matter in helping others become their best selves.”

 

Sponsor Links: A big thank you to our friends at PlexTrac and Axonius for sponsoring this episode!

 

Additional Links:

Book Terre as a Speaker or Coach and purchase Terre's book

Connect with Ron Eddings on LinkedIn and Twitter

Connect with Chris Cochran on LinkedIn and Twitter

Purchase a HVS t-shirt at our shop

Continue the conversation by joining our Discord

Check out  Hacker Valley Media and Hacker Valley Studio

 



Transcript

Ron Eddings:

Glad to be back again, along with another great guest. In the studio today we have with us Terre Short. Terre is a coach, a leader, and a human potential developer. Terre is also the author of "The Words We Choose: Your Guide to How and Why Words Matter in Helping Others Become Their Best Selves." And there's much more to unpack with Terre along with her courses that pair well with her book, but most importantly, Terre, welcome to the show.

Terre Short:

Oh, thanks so much. I'm really pleased to be here.

Chris Cochran:

We are beyond excited to have you here because words are one of our favorite subjects of all times. Words is what makes stories, the stories we tell others, the stories we tell ourselves, and there's so much to really unpack there. But for the folks that don't know who you are just yet, would love to hear a little bit of your background and what you're doing today.

Terre Short:

Absolutely. Well, I like to say I took the jungle gym approach with my background. No absolute ladder climbing. I had a career in hospitality, Four Seasons Hotels specifically, and I was a leader at a very young age. At least it looks that way now. And then I transitioned to healthcare. Well, before I did that, I owned my own business for 10 years and I started doing that leadership development and coaching, consulting and such. Then I decided, or maybe I was called, to be a leader in the healthcare arena and that was a phenomenal experience. So 10 years in healthcare, corporate positions, and eventually when that didn't feel exactly right anymore, I went back to my own business. I've been at it and gathering a team for the last two and a half years and putting quite the diverse team together to spread the word about the words you choose and how to empower people.

Chris Cochran:

So, words. There has to be a story that told you that, "This is what I need to do. This is what I need to bring to my community, to society, to people, looking to be better leaders and better people in general." What is that story that led you down this path of words?

Terre Short:

All right. Well, I didn't ask you two where you live, or maybe I did previously, but I grew up on the East Coast. When I was 20, I moved to San Francisco. I like to say I enjoyed my mis-spent 20s there. And the thing that caught me there was the idea of the "shoulds" on the East Coast. Maybe it was the environment I lived in, but I was very much surrounded by, "You should this, you should that." Now you might not relate to this, but, "You shouldn't wear white..." Let me see how this goes.

Ron Eddings:

You shouldn't wear white after Labor Day.

Terre Short:

There you go, there you go. And open-toed shoes and all this kind of craziness. Anyway, and I really at a young age, started thinking about what people were offering to others and then how that played out in my own head. And here I am in San Francisco where, I don't know, nobody had any sense of what I should or shouldn't do. It was just the world was my oyster. And I started to pay much more attention to that narrative that was playing in my head and the words that I was choosing for myself, which I like to call my personal podcast.

Chris Cochran:

I love that realization. I am also from the East Coast, so is Chris, and we did a stint out in San Jose, California, and one of my West Coast friends when I was living on the East Coast would always tell me that East Coasters are about the outcome and West Coasters are about the experience, more so enjoying the process and all the things that come along with it. And it wasn't until I moved to the West Coast to where I really found the importance of words for me, the importance of even the self-talk, talking to myself in my mind, and really responding to that in a positive way. What is the difference that you've experienced when it comes to speaking out loud with your words and also internal program, the words that you use within your mind?

Terre Short:

Well, it starts there. That's why chapter one in the book is all about that internal dialogue. So your personal podcast, you're the narrator, the director, the producer, the host. You get to decide who comes on and who you banish from coming on. And I'm talking about that voice that plays 24/7. Three o'clock in the morning I can hear my mother saying something I should or shouldn't do. As I've gotten wiser, let's say, as I've aged, I've learned to control that voice. I've learned to listen for should and say, "Why am I choosing that? That's not appropriate here. I don't have to do that." And I started to insert words differently and actually, as I was coaching, I started to experience or play around with this, let's say.

Terre Short:

For example, I had a hospital CEO and he had a real issue with morale and his leaders kept telling everyone, "Well, we have to do this, we have to do that, and the regulations are such that we have to do this with our patients." And no one was owning the outcome. So we started talking about the difference between have to and get to, and that seems like an odd change up, but embrace this... I mean, I coach this a lot, but this man embraced it like nobody's business. He started saying "get to" about every thing. "We get to make this change. We get to keep our patients safe by doing this new thing that the government suggested," or what have you. And so he turned it around. I mean, just as simple as that, by offering to his team the perception that the difference between what you get to do and what you have to do, and he internalized that. So, that's him taking charge of his personal podcast.

Chris Cochran:

I've listened to some of the conversations that you've had with other podcasters and other live streamers, and you have a little bit of a list of words that you never use or tend not to use very frequently. What are some of words and what are some of the applications from a negative sense that could happen to somebody that uses those words?

Terre Short:

Absolutely. Thanks for bringing that up, Chris. And I like to say, you cannot un-see the list. Once you see it... And you can't change all those things at once. Actually, [inaudible] company wrote an article at the end of last year about the 10 phrases or words that a leader should remove from their lexicon in 2021. Here's some of those. So first of all, picture last year where we were COVID-wise, and everyone was turning to the word if. "If we get to travel at Christmas, if we get to see our relatives again. If this, that, and the other thing." And simply, that's a real downer. That's a real demotivating leader saying, "If the company's able to do this," they're introducing ambiguity. So we change that up to "when." And just changing it up to when is that, "When we return to work, when we get to see our relatives again." It's much more affirmative. It's much more forward thinking. So, that's a very easy example.

Terre Short:

One that was turning up a ton last year as well and still is "but", and but is born out of us having apprehension about something, and sometimes it's born straight up out of not listening. You're contemplating what you're about to say when someone's saying something else and you say, "But, we'll also have to consider this." And I like to say, "but's the scissors." "But" truncates and severs, and the word "and" extends. It's the glue. It's the grand extender of the thought, whether it's you speaking or someone else is speaking and you were the one offering the "but", switching that up to "and".

Terre Short:

So for example, if I'm a leader and I am talking to the team about something, "We won't be able to implement this thing we were going to do, but we're still going to have to do this." That's just very demoralizing. It severs what is really meant to be being said. So the leader's trying to say, "We're unable to do this for this reason." Tie it back to your values and the direction of the company. "And, based on that, our new thought is this." There doesn't have to be a "but". So far so good on those? I have more.

Ron Eddings:

No, those are great. One thing I wanted to touch on with that "but". I've met so many "Yes, but"-ers in my life. Those people that love to just counter argue whatever it is that you mentioned, even if it's something that's very plausible or even positive, they just like to find the other side of that solution as a leader. How would you coach someone that is historically a "Yes, but"-er and make them a "Yes, and"-er?

Terre Short:

Mm, great question. First, I would call them out on it, and I'd say, "Chris, when you offer 'but' as an extension, I feel like you're adding it as an extension to what I'm saying or that's what you're attempting. It really quite severs what I just said. So I wonder if you would consider the word 'and' as an extension of what I've said, so therefore you're connecting my idea to idea. I'd love for us to be able to communicate in that manner if you'd consider 'and' as the extender." I would share with you my thoughts on 'but' being the truncater.

Ron Eddings:

Awesome.

Terre Short:

And sometimes what is said, Chris, is "however". Those same people they'll say, "Oh, okay, then I'm going to change that up. I'll say, 'thanks for that information, Chris. However..." I heard someone say recently, "However is 'but' in a tuxedo."

Ron Eddings:

I love that.

Chris Cochran:

It is. And it almost feels a little abrasive when someone gives you that "but", or especially when someone gives you the "however", and it makes me wonder, when we start to relinquish these words from our vocabulary and use more positive, affirming words, what are some of the examples there? What are some of the examples that you think excellent communicators add to their nutrient-rich vocabulary?

Terre Short:

There's so many, and we just don't think about choosing them. Choose an example of giving recognition. So again, it's a leader, let's say the leader's out listening here, and the leader wants to acknowledge that someone did this good thing. And so they say, "Great job." That's it. "Great job" or "Thanks so much." Let's turn up the dials on that. "I appreciate you." And specifically, what do I appreciate? I'm a big proponent of tying the recognition back to the company values. Let's say someone stayed late, did extra work, or what have you. "I very much appreciate how you honored our value of teamwork and pitched in last night doing such and such." I'm going to tie that all together. The words are there, the words exist within the organization, it's a matter of grasping them and pulling them into the dialogue. And it's really not as difficult as one thinks. It's about stopping the treadmill that's going and the spinning that's happening. And I like to say, "Practice the pause. Pause and think. What is my intention? I want to elevate this person is my intention, and therefore, which words should I choose in order to truly do that?"

Chris Cochran:

I'm going to foot stump that real quick, because I don't think people realize what you just said, but what you just said solves one of the biggest problems that I've seen in organizations in the past. Culture comes from its leadership, and you can have all these values on the website, you could have them in a booklet that you have your employees read, but if you're not living the values and you're not scaling those values across the company, you're missing the boat. But by you talking about giving those compliments, giving that validation and tying it to the values, I think is the cheat code for extending that culture across your company. Would you say that's correct?

Terre Short:

Absolutely. I'm so glad you said that. I'll add to that a little bit. So years ago, I wanted to write a book that was called "The Fish Stinks From Its Head." Not so sure how that would've gone over, but that's what you're basically saying. That's the truth. The leader is what I call the ambassador of the culture, so being overt and intentional about weaving in values at all times, whether or not you're expressing appreciation, managing yourself or others up, whether or not you're digging into something that's relevant to your customer centricity, it should all revolve around your values. That is the culture. I talk a little bit in the book about we/they culture and the types of things that people say that represent a we/they culture. Well, simple as that, they say, "They said we have to do such and such," instead of owning what it is and tying it back to the values. You're going to find that word values all throughout my book, because that's where we start and that's the foundation of setting an intention going forward. So thank you for bringing that up.

Chris Cochran:

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Chris Cochran:

I would love to hear more about just your philosophies as a whole. It sounds like you've had many year working with people as a leader, as a coach, and even this term "human potential developer", how would you summarize and sum up what a human potential developer is?

Terre Short:

Well, I believe that I'm the conduit. When I'm coaching, when I'm speaking on the big stage with tons of people or a small group of people at a retreat, I'm the conduit to the individuals or individual reaching their potential. What I do is I ask good questions. We should talk about that in a second about how those questions are formulated. I ask good questions and I peel back the layers of what exists for that individual. I think, Chris, not unlike some of the coaching that you do, where you're exploring, what one's superpower is and what makes their world go round? That's my approach. And when I'm speaking specifically to leaders, I believe that there are six personas of a thriving leader, and that they are... Ron already brought this up.

Terre Short:

The culture ambassador, the ambassador of the culture; the leader as coach; the continual change agent, or what I would also call a chaordic expert, the person who can balance the chaos and the order and bring order to it. Because the whole idea of change is a static thing, that's gone forever. The life integrator, so one that their life/work balance is in order; the emotionally and intuitively intelligent leader, and there are many things under that is emotional regulation and empathy and so on and so forth; and then lastly, being a proactive and productive juggler. And I spend a lot of time it seems recently with my clients talking specifically about that, how to prioritize, how to goal set, how to juggle competing priorities and such. With all those six personas, there are the words one chooses in order to navigate through the specifics of each of those personas.

Chris Cochran:

Let's tie this all together a bit, because we're talking about words, we're talking about that personal podcast, we're talking about leadership. So tell me from the perspective of a leader, maybe someone was really good in their job field and they set out to build a company, but that does not immediately make them a great leader. Many times the podcast that they're playing in their head comes from dirty fuel. Maybe they're looking to prove themselves to the world, show their value, but leadership is secondary in their mind. How do you take someone that is using that dirty fuel for leadership and turn it into something more positive through that podcast, through the words that's going through their head on a regular basis?

Terre Short:

Yeah. I love that question. Well, I think that individual needs to take a few steps back. As I say, practice the pause, but this is a big pause. This isn't the in the moment I'm about to say something pause. This is the big pause. Step way back and think about being in a position to serve others as a leader. As you were saying that, I was thinking about the many, many leaders I've seen along my career path that they're a leader because somebody called in sick or, I don't know. They were extremely good at doing X and now the leader's gone, so will they bump into their position with little to no expertise in being a leader, or they're starting a business and now they're going to have employees, like you said. So step back and think about what it means to serve others in the position of leadership.

Terre Short:

And when you do that, that's what gets you to those six personas. It is required. You're going to need to show up in each of those roles that I mentioned, and you're going to need to choose words that will open up the conversation and invite in those that you're serving as the leader so that you have this collaborative, cohesive team that you're building. It starts with that individual getting their arms around that, because I don't know if that resonates with the two of you, but so many leaders don't see themselves as in service to others.

Chris Cochran:

Correct.

Ron Eddings:

Right.

Terre Short:

But that's it, right? That's the leaders that excel and the leaders that thrive. Here's the best example I have, is so many engineers... I coach a lot of people in tech or specifically in FinTech, and a lot of the engineers, they're engineers, they love in the contribution that they're making and then they become a leader. If you're fine in that individual contribution, how do you find the joy now in the individual contribution of the others? Because that's what the leader needs to do. That's where it takes that really a big step back thinking, "This is what gave me joy before, and now how does it give me joy? How will I be thriving in the position of others being the individual contributors?"

Chris Cochran:

I've been a part of many engineering teams. Chris and I both work in the cyber security industry, and it almost seems like some of the times the leaders don't have the inspiration. They don't have the inspiration to convey their points to others. I might get a little bored, or sidetracked, distracted, with words that a leader says. What are some the best practices that you've seen when it comes to influence and inspiration, especially when you look at leaders inspiring their teams to perform better or just really get the job done?

Terre Short:

Yeah. So of course, I think that's all word choice driven, but let's use a real example. First of all, if you're having not even a presentation, you're having a meeting that happens every week, decide what you want the desired outcome of that meeting to be, and then work backwards from there. What sort of contributions are you seeking? For everything that you're doing as a leader on a daily basis, contemplate what the value of the doing is. "I'm going to do this because my desired outcome is X." And now what sort of effort should I put into this meeting or this presentation, what have you, based on that? That's what'll inform the words that I'm going to choose, so how am I going to get to the point of what I want to accomplish here? And let that intention setting, if you will, drive everything. The step back, I have a presentation, here's my desired outcome. Or I have a meeting, here's my desired outcome.

Terre Short:

And then go into it from a place of curiosity. Set some parameters, set some guardrails, and then go into it inviting others into the conversation. I mentioned earlier that I would get to this. The question asking. How I invite that conversation is I start my questions with "what", "how", or "tell me". And that's how I am more interested than interesting. I also like to say "ask more, tell less". Peeling back the layers of what the other contributors have, what they're holding onto, is what you're doing. You're asking a "what", "how", or "tell me about", or eventually, or occasionally saying, "tell me more," and listening very well. That's where the joy is. That's where the leader learns that they can do this. They're in a position now to tease out the potential of all the other individuals. And that's just good fun.

Chris Cochran:

One of the things that I've used in the past is, "What do you see that I don't see?" Because that offers up that invitation to say, "Hey, there's something that I might not be seeing here, so now I'm going to give you the room, the space, the opportunity to say that thing that's on your mind." Because we tend to think sometimes that we are the end-all be-all when we're leaders. But really, we have to delegate those decisions to the folks that we hired, because they might be better, or they should be better, at the thing that they're doing than we are. What are some ways that we can step back a little bit more away from the ego, away from the story that, "Oh, they think they're better than me?" Some of that thought is so toxic in a team environment that it should just be eradicated immediately, but some folks, I think, are still holding onto that. Maybe something happened to them when they were younger. Maybe there were things in their career that makes them a little defensive. What are some ways that they could back their self away from some of those thoughts?

Terre Short:

For thing they have to do is acknowledge it. If someone's listening and they're hearing this right now, does that resonate with you, or are you that person that really could have an opportunity to do a little bit more self-awareness, exercise your self-awareness, and assess whether or not you're that controlling, always have to be right, speak before everybody else type of person? That's what I think you were identifying. And maybe ask somebody else. Play it safe, ask some peer or somebody that's known you for a while. "Do you see me as that person?" And then once you have that self-awareness, then you set about changing how you're going to show up in the meetings, and that leads to asking better questions. Sit on your hands if you have to and force yourself to say, "So-and-so, I understand you've worked in this field, or I understand you've had some experience with this. Tell me what your thoughts are on our next move," or whatever. I'm making this up. But whatever it is that you start with "what", "how", or "tell me".

Terre Short:

What do you perceive the potential obstacles to be? Instead of me telling you, "Well, that's not going to work. This'll be an obstacle." If I feel that, if I feel it in my bones that it's not going to work and here's why, I'm still better served to ask you and to uncover from you from a place of curiosity, no judgment, from a place of curiosity, to uncover what your thoughts are, you're going to be more engaged. You're going to have more ownership. And what happens is the reason I say "what", "how", and "tell me", so often we say "why". The leader wants to say, "Well, why? Why did you do that? Well, why do you think that?" "Why" can be construed, even when it isn't, as judge-y. As soon as you say that, "Why did you do that? Well, why was that your go-to action? Or why was that your response?" Doesn't that feel judge-y?

Chris Cochran:

Very much so.

Ron Eddings:

Yep.

Terre Short:

So "what", "how", and "tell me about", and then you're asking more, telling less, and then I can weave it in. Let's say I was sitting on my hands, knew it in my bones that this wasn't going to work. When I draw, not if, but when I draw out what everyone else thinks and we really bat the idea around, then it may come without me having to say it. It may come to bare that this is the solution, and now everyone was a part of that instead of me telling this is the right solution.

Chris Cochran:

One hidden element, I believe, of everything that you're describing, is the power of listening. Asking these better questions, being genuinely interested, but then to sit and wait for your turn to respond. Like you were mentioning earlier, a lot of people or leaders will even formulate the response before it's their opportunity to respond and really digest what the other person is saying. What are some of the insights that you've learned just from the power of listening? What has been a story that you can share where you saw listening work better than even communicating or speaking, really?

Terre Short:

I've learned this one from my children, to be honest with you. And it's really quite a shame because they're 24 and 25, so I could have had this lesson way earlier. I'd been a better leader. But as they grew, let's say into their teen years, at the same time, I'm listening for words, I'm thinking about asking my "what, how" questions so that I'm not asking questions that make them say, "Fine, good," those monosyllabic responses. And that's when I really learned that I could be a better listener from the perspective that you're talking about, because I thought I had the answer. "I'm the parent, I've already been through what they've been through." That sort of thing was going through my head. And that's when I learned that no, no, no, no, no. There's no learning going on here until I back up and I truly listen to everything that they have to say. I don't interrupt. I'm fully present. I have the right body language. I'm leaning in. I'm practicing that pregnant pause, where it's so painful to think, "Ah, is something else coming?" But I learned to do that with my children, and maybe a decade ago, but I sure could have used that lesson a little more upfront.

Chris Cochran:

So I got to ask you this, and the question is, there's probably someone that's listening to this, there's a leader of a company, there's a leader of a team, or even just a leader of a family, and they've thought, "I've been in go, go, go mode for so long, and listening to this podcast I'm now starting to think about the words that I choose when communicating, even the words I choose when thinking about myself, my goals, my team, my family." What is that step that they can take tomorrow in order to assess the words that they use and speak more clearly, communicate more positivity, and just be better with the words that they choose?

Terre Short:

Well, let's go back to values. So I would say step one, figure out what your personal values are and start to assess how often the words you choose align with those values. That would be step one. Step two would be to practice the pause. Force yourself to practice the pause. You're we're 20-some, 30 minutes into this podcast. You know I speak very quickly. And so for me to practice the pause, I'm talking nanosecond for deciding whether or not what I'm about to say suits my intention. The combination of the words that I'm choosing will support my values and the intention of what I'm sharing with this person or this audience is X. How do I ensure that those are absolutely aligned? That's where I would recommend anyone start.

Chris Cochran:

Terre, this was beyond phenomenal. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to come on our podcast and bestow some knowledge onto us. For the folks that want to stay up to date with you, your retreats, your books, and all the great things that you have going on in your world, what are the best ways that people can do that?

Terre Short:

Well, it's Terre spelled oddly, T, E, R, R, E, @shortgroup.net is my email. Straight up, shoot me an email would be the first thing. On my website, shortgroup.net, you can download the first chapter of the book for free. That also points you directly to the learning site. The learning site has the courses that we mentioned related to the content in the book. And thethrivingleadercollaborative.com is where we are offering the retreats in 2022, and lots more learning content related to being a thriving leader.

Chris Cochran:

Excellent. We'll be sure to drop those resources along with Terre's Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram for you all to state up to date with all of the amazing things that she's doing. Terre, thinks again, we'll see everyone next time.

Terre Short:

Thank you.

Ron Eddings:

If you found value in this content, it would mean the world to us if you shared it on social media, sent it to a friend or talked about it over coffee.

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