My five-year-old recently started telling me that stuff I say to him “doesn’t make any sense.” 

You can imagine how much this bothers me on all levels. 

First off – he is FIVE. Two days ago he told me a story that involved a wookie, his sister and a pickle. He has no idea what “sense” even is…

Second – where did he hear that phrase? Who talks like that? Does his teacher say things like that to the classroom when she gets frustrated? Has he been flipping Netflix from Wild Kratz to some stupid Disney Channel TV show when I leave the room?  

I was airing my frustration about this after he and his sister had headed to bed a few nights ago and a smile started to creep across my wife’s face. 

“What?” I said, catching the grin that was slowly forming. 

“Um…” she was trying to be gentle. “YOU say that.”

“No! No I don’t.”

She let it drop. 

No less than five minutes later I was talking about something completely different (and fairly trivial) when I adamantly started to make a point.

“I am telling you!!!” I was starting to get loud. “IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE!”


Influence can be an accident. The way we talk is powerful.

My kids apparently know I think a lot of things “don’t make sense,” but what do they hear me say about their mom? What are my catchphrases while caught in traffic? What do I sound like when catching up with my brother on the phone?  

It doesn’t stop with kids. 

I have recently found myself saying “value proposition” a lot and I am not sure I even know what it means. I just know my office mate sounds smart when he says it. 

I still pronounce “guacamole” like the last part is the animal, all because of an old friend and a silly math joke from a decade and a half ago.  

Think about your office, your group of friends. Think about phrases and inside jokes and one-liners that have become embedded in your vocabulary without you ever realizing it.

And then think about leveraging this power. 

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