Enlightened Leadership Blog | Find Another Way to Say It | April 2022

We use words frequently, knowing their literal meaning, perhaps without awareness of what they communicate or how they make others feel. Next thing we know, certain words are overused. We may have even offended others, unintentionally.

Recently, I challenged myself to choose one word, used professionally and personally, to limit. The chosen word – “busy”.

Reality

Here’s the thing. We are engaged in a lot. Everyone has stuff going on. No one who is running around wants to hear someone’s “list” of how busy they are. 

Social media offers a platform to promote this. For example, some use social media posts to brag about their “busy” schedule. Reality is if we are “so busy” we wouldn’t have time or energy to post about it, complete with assorted pictures. Publicizing a life as “busy” doesn’t mean it’s better. 

Receive

Let’s step into the mind of the person receiving our message. How does someone feel when the reason for not hearing back is I was busy? Do they feel valued? No. Do they feel blown off? Maybe. Do they feel like they heard excuses? Yes. 

Is this how we want them to feel? Hopefully, the answer is No.

Rethink

Rethink the word “busy” to improve communications. First, let’s stop to think about how we want our words to make others perceive us. Then, be aware of the news we intend to communicate. Lastly, choose words that say what we mean.

Rephrase

We can substitute phrases to express our desired message more clearly. Then, fill in the blank with thoughts like I was…

  1. Focused on something else
  2. Occupied on a project
  3. Consumed with something unexpectedly
  4. Involved with work
  5. Traveling
  6. On vacation 
  7. Navigating personal/family stuff

You get the idea.

The next time you feel the word busy starting to form on your tongue or your keyboard/keypad, find another way to say it.

by Jennifer L. Musser