You know you've done it.

Even if you didn't mean to do it, you've done it.

You've derailed or delayed a discussion with wordsmithing.

You're in a meeting to work on concepts -- not final language -- but you can't help yourself. You focus on getting exactly the right words down instead of the exactly right concepts. That simple shift in focus slows down the process at best, and derails it at worst.

Sometimes we focus on words because that's what we do as communicators. Words matter! True, but they matter less than the idea at this point in the discussion.

Other times, we focus on words because we don't like the ideas but don't want to say so. Wordsmithing can look like you're contributing even as you bog things down.

Whatever the reason, it's not helpful to focus on words before the big ideas are fully formed and vetted.

So don't do it. And don't let others do it, either! When the agenda calls for big-picture concept work, work hard to keep yourself  and others at that level. Agree on the big stuff first. And when folks (yourself included) start working harder on the words, gently pull them back up. Remind them that we all care about how the concept is communicated and that sufficient time and effort will be spent on that at the appropriate time. But right now, the task is to develop and hone the big ideas. Then, if you have time, you can figure out how best to convey that concept. Otherwise, you can convene a smaller group or a strong writer to create draft wording.