Motley Crue on Future Tense

motley crueIt’s no shock that the words you choose make a difference when communicating to others. But, have you ever considered the tense of your verbs? Motley Crue sure does.

Earlier in the year, the hard rocking hair band, Motley Crue, announced that this summer’s tour will be their last…forever. In itself, this is not newsworthy. Many performers have proclaimed to be on their last tour only to go on another “last” tour a few years later. What makes Motley Crue unique is that all four members of the band have signed a “cessation of touring agreement” which strictly bans them from performing together after their current tour ends.

From an entertainer’s perspective, Motley Crue is making a guarantee to their fans and each other. From a linguist’s perspective, the Crue are speaking in current tense. As you’ll soon learn, this makes difference.

The idea that language affects a business strategy is pretty fundamental to our results. – Christopher Marquis, Harvard Business School Professor

According to a Harvard study, “future-time-reference in a language reduces the psychological importance of the future.” This means that leaders who speak in hypothetical, future-oriented verbiage are less effective in achieving the goals they are propositioning.

The Crue did not say that they intended to break up, nor did they state what they hoped to do after the tour. Their intentions were expressed in a deliberate, affirmative manner. As Tommy Lee, Motely Crue’s drummer stated, “We always had a vision of going out with a big f#% bang and not playing county fairs…Our job here is done.”

We will be more successful if we start using more current-tense language. Own your vision. Make bold declarations, not theoretical suppositions. Don’t start sentences with I think, I hope, or I feel. Inspire self-assuredness in your team. Say I know and This is what we’re going to do.

I was going to end this post with, “I hope you have a nice Memorial Day weekend.” Instead, I am confident that you are going to have a wonderful holiday weekend.