“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar
This is not a political post. It is a leadership and communication post.
Leadership comes with a microphone. Every leader at some point has to stand up and say, “Follow me”. Therefore, it is vital for people who speak for a living (religious, athletic, business, and non-profit leaders) to understand how to connect with their audience and move them to action.
Regardless of your political beliefs, nowhere was this on more display than February 9th after Senator Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire Primary. First, let’s take a look at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s concession speech. Afterwards, I will make some observations. **Note** You can scroll down the page and skip the speech if you would like!
Notice the terms used by Secretary Clinton and their regularity:
- “I” – 35 times
- “Me” – 8 times
- “My” – 7 times
- Total – 50 times in a 10-minute speech
These terms focused on her. These are “Me” terms. The following were the terms that focused on the people. These are “We” terms:
- “We” – 17 times
- “Us” – 4 times
- “You” – 8 times
- Total – 29 times
The over-emphasis on “Me” over “We” was an almost 2-to-1 ratio. This then makes Secretary Clinton the hero of her own message.
Now let’s compare her speech to Senator Sanders’ 28-minute message later in the evening:
The terms used by Senator Sanders and their regularity were the following:
- “I” – 23 times vs. Secretary Clinton’s 35 times in over twice the time.
- “Me” – 5 times vs. Secretary Clinton’s 8 times
- “My” – 10 times vs. Secretary Clinton’s 10 times
- Total “Me” terms – 38 times vs. Secretary Clinton’s 50 times in 18 less minutes.
Now, let’s compare the following “We” terms focusing on the people:
- “We” – 53 times vs. Secretary Clinton’s 17 times
- “Us” – 6 times vs. 4 times
- “You” – 7 times vs. 8 times
- “Our” – which Senator Sanders referenced 15 times
- Total – 81 times for Senator Sanders vs. 29 times for Secretary Clinton
And I did not even count the numerous times Senator Sanders referenced the “people”. The over-emphasis on “We” over “Me” was by an over 2-to-1 ratio. By contrast, this makes the PEOPLE the hero of Senator Sanders’s message.
In short, the genius of Senator Sanders’s message is he makes others the hero of the story. This is something all leaders should learn and emulate.
Donald Trump has a similar theme – “We can make America great again.” Senator Sanders and Mr. Trump talk “We”. Secretary Clinton and many other Republican candidates talk “Me”.
Secretary Clinton appears to be applying for a job – “I have done this…I can do this…I will do this.” It is a “Me” message. Senator Sanders is inviting you into a revolution. It is a “We” message.
Whether you are a pastor, coach, administrator, manager, department head, or executive, is the message about you, your thoughts, your vision, your goals, your feelings, your family, your hopes and aspirations, your views, your accomplishments, your preferences, your ideas, your investment, your challenges, and your next steps? Is it about “Me”?
Or are you inviting your people into a revolution and great adventure? Is your message about their goals, their thoughts, their feelings, their family, their hopes, their dreams, their challenges, and their next steps? Is it about “We”?
“We” messages are attractive and gain traction much more effectively than a “Me” message. No one likes a “Me” message…or worse, a “Me” messenger.
Pastors, I have particular concern for you because you are the messenger of the most important message of all – life change through the person of Jesus Christ.
Regardless of your political beliefs, Secretary Clinton’s messaging creates an obstacle to her pursuit of the presidency which must be addressed. The larger question for readers of this site, however, is does your messaging create obstacles to the goals you are pursuing?
If so, two quick tips from the videos above:
- Measure the personal pronouns vs. plural pronouns you are using. This gives both you and your audience a picture into your motives and approach.
- Watch your sermons and presentations with the volume OFF. Over 80% of communication is non-verbal. When your ADD or bored audience zone out or “go to their happy place”, what you are then communicating is determined by what the audience SEES. Be happy and excited.
Regardless of your political beliefs, watching the political discourse from a leadership perspective will make you a better leader.
In closing, I repeat the great Zig Ziglar’s words, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” Be a “We” person.
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