The power of words to motivate employees

By Jacqueline Antonetti Moreno – Transformational Communicator. Diversity Expert. Bestselling Author. Solutions-finder.

As an innate and career communicator, I am a firm believer in the power that the words we think and express, both orally and written, have in our lives.


Words have the power to motivate or discourage people. Therefore, words have the power to make us move forward unstoppable towards the achievement of a goal or make us give-up halfway. That’s why we, as leaders, must make a conscious and smart choice of the words we use when talking to our team, as well as when creating our inner dialogues.

For example, one of the most obvious cases of such difference are the words problem vs. challenge. When we face a situation that seems to limit the completion of our plan, the natural tendency is to look at it as a ‘problem’. The issue with this word is that when we say it our mind immediately conditions itself to focus on the problem. We also begin to experience feelings that are rooted in fear: anxiety, anguish, etc. This, in turn, limits our ability to access our internal and unlimited source of solutions and resources, making it difficult to overcome adversity.

If instead we use the word ‘challenge‘ to refer to what we saw as a problem before, our minds tend to turn their attention towards finding solutions because the situation is not perceived as a threat but as an opportunity to discover and learn something new. When someone or something challenges us, we tend to feel the desire to prove to ourselves and to others that we can solve the situation that seems to be limiting us. Therefore, we are much more open to learn from the situation and to access our internal source of resources and answers.

This example I used above is just one of the many we can find in the vocabulary we use daily. However, despite its simplicity, I believe in its immense power when we are leading a team.

Imagine that you are meeting with your team discussing that key project for the company. Now imagine that this is an emergency meeting because a situation has arisen that threatens the successful completion of the project. Visualize yourself talking to your team in terms of a ‘problem’; note what happens internally in your body, what feelings and emotions do you feel?… Now watch your team. What do you see in their faces? What is the energy in the room? How much progress have you and your team made in finding solutions?…

Now visualize the same meeting, in the same room, with the same people, but listen to you saying something like “… A challenge has arisen. It’s an opportunity to prove what we are made of and to stimulate our creativity to find solutions. Who wants to join me in overcoming this challenge?” Now note again what happens internally in your body, what feelings and emotions do you feel?… Now watch your team. What do you see in their faces? What is the energy in the room? How much progress have you and your team made in finding solutions?…

If you did the exercise with certain level of concentration, you have been able to notice a big difference between the two sides of the same coin. Therefore, you have been able to experience the power that the words we use have in ourselves and in others and, also have noticed how one can motivate us and our team to move forward with determination or, on the contrary, it can make us want to give-up half road or at least lead us to approach the situation with an emotional charge that drains our energy and enthusiasm to move forward. So, I invite you to pay attention to how you communicate with your team and choose your words consciously.

If you are an individual who wants to improve the impact of your communication in your life or a professional with a managing role in an organization seeking to improve the motivation of your team, you can contact me directly at

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