All day, everyday we use words. Right now, you are reading my words. After this, you will likely open up your email and write a few words of your own. With all these words everywhere all day, how much time do you spend thinking about the words you choose?
If you are anything like me a few months ago: Probably no time at all.
The words we choose, the language we use is so ingrained in our brains that it’s all automatic. Our lexicon is shaped by our lifestyles, education, location, and our closest friends and family.
Have you ever stopped to think about how your language can affect your business?
How do you talk about your role in your business? What do you call yourself? I see so many of my fellow wedding planners – fellow business owners – handing out business cards that simply say their name, business name, and then “wedding planner”. No mention of CEO, or Owner. By the looks of some of these business cards, it appears that the owner simply works for the company – nothing more. This is ridiculous! Business owners, you have EARNED the right to call yourself CEO or Owner. No one is going to give you that promotion but you! You have to walk the walk, and talk the talk.
Are you subconsciously using limiting language in your business? Here’s a quick exercise for you. Open up your business email account and search for the word “sorry”. I just did it, and I got 148 emails. Six months ago when I did this exercise, I got over 400! Progress, not perfection. So, what’s the deal with the word “sorry”?
According to a 2010 study in the journal Psychological Science, “women have a lower threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior,” so are more likely to see a need for an apology in everyday situations. We are even apt to shoehorn apologies into instances where being direct is vital — such as discussing pricing with potential clients.
A few weeks ago, I was out to lunch with a business bestie friend, and I ordered a salad. Halfway through lunch, I dug my fork into the bowl and saw a bug. A BIG bug. Immediately, I called our server over to show him, and when he approached the table, do you know what I said? I said, “I am so sorry, but there seems to be a bug in my salad.” As I heard the words come out of my mouth, I was engaged at myself. Why am I sorry?? I’m not sorry! WHY DID I SAY IT? Because I am conditioned to. We all are.
Start noticing how often you use this word – especially with clients – and try to trim it down! When you have actually done something that warrants an actual apology, by all means, be contrite. But let’s all please stop apologizing for anything that is not actually our fault!
Are you using other limiting language in your business? Do you use any of the following phrases often?
- Inserting just: “I just want to check in and see…” “I just think…” Just tends to make us sound a little apologetic and defensive about what we’re saying. Think about the difference between the sound of “I just want to check in and see…” and “I want to check in and see…” or the difference between “I just think” and “I think…” Be definitive. Your clients will respect you more.
- Inserting actually: “I actually disagree…” “I actually have a question.” It actually makes us sound surprised that we disagree or have a question—not good!
- Using qualifiers: “I’m no expert in this, but…” or “I know you all have been researching this for a long time, but…” undermines your position before you’ve even stated your opinion. Cut it out!
- Asking, “Does that make sense?” or “Am I making sense?”: I used to do this all the time. We do it with good intentions: We want to check in with the other people in the conversation and make sure we’ve been clear. The problem is, “does that make sense” comes across either as condescending (like your client can’t understand) or it implies you feel you’ve been incoherent (which erodes the trust your client has placed in you). A better way to close is something like “I look forward to hearing your thoughts.” You can leave it up to the other party to let you know if they are confused about something, rather than implying that you “didn’t make sense.” And we all know that if a client is confused or has questions, they WILL ask them!
A great tool to help you eradicate limiting language from your vocabulary is a Plug-In for the Google Chrome browser called “Just Not Sorry”. It’s free and it’s amazing.
A great book to read is Tara Mohr’s Playing Big. It’s inspirational and necessary for any woman in business today.
Paying deeper attention to the words we use and the way in which we use them can have extraordinary results for our businesses. WORDS. The words you speak, the words you write – on your site, in your emails, and they way in which you talk about your business can truly CHANGE the trajectory of your career.
I hope I’ve inspired you all to be more intention with the words you choose, and I hope that you’ll share with me any changes you see moving forward.
This is a guest post by Renée Dalo. Renee is the CEO and Lead Planner of Moxie Bright Events, a boutique wedding planning firm in Los Angeles, CA. Renée is also a Leader for The Rising Tide Society’s Tuesdays Together and a strong believer in “community over competition”. She can’t say no to anything Kate Spade, a weekend getaway, or a well-made bellini. You can find Renée on Instagram at @moxiebrightevents and in person this July at the Creative at Heart Conference in Denver, CO, where she is pleased to be a panelist.