Workplace: Will

Why does the word Will matter? Because it can mean so many things and be used in so many ways. American English is full of words that have multiple meanings. A sales skill training workshop years ago proved this with an activity that said “Write down how you define the word Trust.” Half a dozen definitions emerged. Being a word person myself, this was a terrific exercise for gaining understanding that words AND their meanings matter greatly when working to communicate clearly and effectively.

We live in times where word meanings are continuing to change; to be useful and in some cases to be less than useful or even disrespectful. However, throughout history this could also have been said and been true. Back to the word “will” – its possible meanings and uses.

  • Will – a request of someone else to do something for you. Example: Will you complete the project and prepare a five-minute presentation?
  • Will – a person’s name. Short for William. Also may be short for Wilma or Wilhelmina.
  • Will – a document that states what a person wants done with their property and things after death.


  • Will – a verb used to express a future tense. You will find out how challenging parenting is when you become one.
  • Will – a verb expressing inevitable events. Mistakes will happen. This was emphasized to me be the first newsletter printer I used for my business. He said “every issue will have a mistake. It’s okay. Move on to the next issue, striving to make each one better.”
  • Will – a verb expressing a request. As stated in the first example.
  • Will – an expression of facts about ability or capacity. Example: A bad chicken egg will float in water.

One person with whom I work on a daily basis responds better and completes tasks more readily when I phrase requests with the word Will at the beginning of the question. Maybe it gives a sense of having an option not to do the work. Maybe it sounds nicer than a direction to do something today. I’m not certain why it works better, it just does.

This is a leadership challenge: figuring out which words, sentences and questions will best communicate your meanings and your directions in ways that improve the odds of the work getting done.

What words will you use to communicate most effectively? More effectively?

Note from Jana: Your meetings – online and in person – are your most important tool for achieving team successes. If you’re ready to take strategic steps toward managing meetings and results as effectively as possible, we’d love to talk with you about partnering.

Workplace – the Blog: Managing the moments of our day-to-day business lives takes work. Together, let’s explore what issues and activities affect us every day (or some days) that we go

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