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How to Exercise Your “Verbal Muscle”

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How to Exercise Your "Verbal Muscle"

Recently, I was having a conversation with my youngest son about a meeting he attended and he described one of the individuals in the meeting as having “verbal muscle.”

I was intrigued by his use of the term “verbal muscle” and I asked him to explain what he meant by it.

He said to me, “Dad, a person with verbal muscle is an individual who is not bashful about stating their position and intention as to what they want to accomplish, staying focused on achieving it, without being argumentative, abusive or obnoxious.”

He went on to say that an individual with “verbal muscle” isn’t afraid to speak their mind, in a respectful way, to get something (usually the right thing) done regardless of those who might disagree. Further, he explained that an individual with verbal muscle is usually someone who doesn’t look for confrontation, yet doesn’t shy away from it either if that’s what’s needed to get clarification or resolution of an issue.

So, I thought more about this and concluded that verbal muscle is an important skill for anyone wishing to achieve success. It would be an especially important skill for someone in a leadership position to acquire when you consider the importance of communication skills in achieving the right results through your team.

So I ask you, is your verbal muscle healthy?

Do you even use it? Can you clearly and consistently state your position and intention with others, or do you dance around an issue hoping not to offend someone?

Let me be clear: Having a healthy and well-toned verbal muscle means that you’re looking for the win-win scenario when appropriate. It doesn’t mean that you’re a verbal bully. It means that you understand that seeking clarity and finding common ground is the first step in resolving issues with others in order to keep moving forward.

Related: How to Stop Being Distracted

Like all muscles, periodic exercise goes a long way to help develop them and improve their capacity to work harder for you. You might be thinking, how’s the best way to “exercise” your verbal muscle?

For starters, the next time you want to make a point in a meeting, on a phone call or in an e-mail, first, on a blank sheet of paper, write down the outcome you want to achieve. Identify what is the right thing to be done or said. Work backward from that, identifying the key points that have to be addressed to get to that outcome. Give yourself the clarity you need before trying to convince others. Think of this preliminary step as stretching before you start to exercise.

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