The Power of Words

Words have Power

Staff! Colleagues! Team members!  Lend me your ears!

I’m developing a series of Simple Systems for £7 at the moment – ‘How to’ guides for small business owners to help you to set up the simple systems you know you need, but just don’t have time to think about.

The reason I mention them, other than the early plug, is that in writing the content, I’ve realised that I have a real aversion to the word ‘staff. There’s something about it I just don’t like.

It’s a cold, unfeeling, unfriendly word and it got me thinking about the importance of the language we use in business, and how much it can convey.

When I hear ‘staff’ I see:

  • A body of people
  • A faceless entity
  • Doers not owners
  • A group of people who work together in the same building

When I hear ‘team’ I see people who are:

  • Part of something bigger than themselves
  • Sharing a common goal
  • Individuals working together
  • Belonging
  • Have pride in what they do
  • Taking ownership

It’s a small thing, but faced with being staff or a team member, I know which makes me feel more valued. 

It’s like the difference between saying, ‘Paul works for me’, and ‘Paul works with me’.

Small things, that matter.

Our British culture has taught us not to over-enthuse, to have a ‘healthy’ cynicism, to mock, or even despise cultures where positivity and enthusiasm is the norm. Naturally, this can affect our day to day language and conversations with others.

We all know someone who puts a negative slant on everything, who criticises everyone, and bemoans on a daily basis their hard life.  It can be funny to be around them for a while, but if you were working with them day after day, it would be wearing. Their words, as well as their demeanour, bring other people down.

As business owners wanting to get the best out of our Team, we need to guard against these individuals, and also watch for tell-tale signs in the way we talk. 

Are you the person who would watch a little girl carrying a full cup of juice and say, ‘Careful! Don’t spill that?

Or would you say ‘Clever girl’?

If you delegate work for a client to one of your team do you say, ‘Whatever you do, don’t make a mistake’?

Or do you encourage them with ‘It’s important that this is spot on, that’s why I’m asking you to do it’?

Does your everyday language make your team feel valued everyday? 

Do one thing today: listen to how you’re talking to your team, your customers, your peers, and work on that positive slant.

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