Think about last week at work. How many times did you say the word “absolutely” or “absolutely not?” If you used either one, was it directed at a quality you like or dislike in people? For example, “I can’t stand people who are…. (Fill in the blank, i.e., disorganized, wishy-washy, late, uneducated, overweight, etc.)

If you did, were there people around that might have taken that personally? (Hint: there are always people around who take things personally!) Did the message you sent have the intended impact? Or, more hazardous, were you just speaking “off the cuff” and didn’t have any intent?

Here’s another question to consider: In the last week, did you express your frustration about a coworker by speaking disparagingly to another behind  his/her back? What impression did that create? Did the person you were speaking to understand that you were just letting off steam or was there this silent question in response: “I wonder what gets said about me?” Is that the impression you wanted to give?

The core question here is this: Are you an Intentional Leader? Do you follow your mother’s instruction to “say what you mean and mean what you say?” If not, are you paying a price for not using your mouth strategically?

Here’s your homework for the next week: Watch for absolutes in the conversations you have with your coworkers. Write them down and consider the possible impact on those around you. Awareness is, of course, the first step towards becoming an Intentional (i.e., strategic) Leader.