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Words Matter With Perception

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I was reading this old blog post from 2011.  It’s called Minimum Viable Personality and it’s about the “personality” of your company when you startup.  Personality also becomes your corporate culture.  Corporate culture affects how your company and employees think, act and imagine when it comes to growth and servicing customers.

Feel free to flip over and check out the post. I am not going to repost the entire thing here.  But, I was thinking about how you say what you say really affects the mindset.

The words you choose to talk to your customer or your market segment about yourself or your company really matter on the way your perceived.  It could mean the difference between making a sale, or not.

A couple of examples.  In 2001 when my family and I were on vacation, we had 14,000 gallons of water leak out of an upstairs toilet and destroy our house.  In the aftermath, when I was trying to communicate with the insurance representative who was in charge of rebuilding our house, I could never get through to her or get my point across.  Our friend up the street, Leo, was in the insurance business and could translate for me.  The words he used to describe the same situation were different, and she understood.  Things got done.  I am eternally grateful to Leo.

Words are loaded with many meanings depending on the context, how they are used, and the way the person on the other end has been conditioned prior in life to receive the meaning of those words.

A simple word like “justice” has several meanings.  To some, it might have a negative connotation.  To others positive.  We hear that word a lot these days in all sorts of things, political and apolitical.

To use one example, if you hear the word “social justice” what do you think?  “Our company is dedicated to providing social justice to everyone”.  Seems like an innocuous mission but it’s not.  Especially given what has happened and who the people and organizations pushing the social justice agenda are.

For myself, I think of negative connotations. I think about:

  • burning down cities
  • communism and marxism
  • racism and reverse racism
  • division
  • judgment and punishment
  • non-merit based decision making
  • artificial psychological and emotional control
  • government overreach into our lives
  • fixed pies

Not one of those things is going to win you friends or influence a lot of people.  They aren’t going to win the lion’s share of customers or help you dominate a market segment.  Those are all negative and if you approach me with that message I am going to tune you out.  I don’t want to be associated with things like that.

However, what if we used different words to achieve the same sort of thing?  Not the negative connotations and bad emotion that I listed, but I think we all can agree that everyone wants everyone else to have opportunity and equality.

Instead, what if I said, “Our company is dedicated to empowering all individuals to be the best they can be.”

What do you think of when you think about empowering an individual?

Empowering has a very different connotation than justice.  We mete out justice.  Justice means someone has to pay.  If I empower you, I help give you the liberty to better yourself.

The difference also permeates through your soul, and through your organization.  If I empower people, I will empower all my employees.  If I provide social justice to people, my employees also need to administer “justice” to things.

It’s the difference between showing up and being an inward-looking centralized judge who tries to interpret things based on prior precedents, or showing up and being curious, outward-looking, and trying to do what’s best for the person you are interacting with.

The post Words Matter With Perception first appeared on Points and Figures.


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