I read an interesting article about about certain phrases we commonly use and how they can “drive you crazy”. In example, “Think outside of the box” or “My door is always open”. Those are phrases that I hear quite often and it really got me thinking about singular words that we commonly use and how they can truly “hurt your bottom line” in the new era of political correctness.
It’s really easy nowadays to offend someone or hurt someone’s feelings or worse, “step over the line” and get in trouble if you’re not paying attention to the shift in human behaviors. By making small changes in the way you talk, construct an email or during a presentation may help you gain more respect as a worker or leader and perhaps offer a better environment for your clientele.
The word “policy” may not sound harsh to you, however, have you considered how it sounds to your employees or clients? The first 6 letters of the word are seen in the psyche before it registers in the workplace.
The word “police” doesn’t offer a pleasant and/or protective feeling anymore. Our media reports this on a daily basis about the war on police worldwide as new “ism’s” are being born. Perhaps rethink that word and offer a better one. In example, how does it sound when you send an email to a client and you say, “That is not our policy” versus a better construction of, “That is not our protocol” or even better, “that is not in our corporate structure”. Play around with it by using the Thesaurus and find the right words that sound better.
The word “fired” is definitely old school and instills fear in everyone’s hearts. It is a word that is not brought up often in the workplace and can have significant effects on morale if it is used. In my opinion, the word should be shunned and never brought back again because it doesn’t fit the scenario anyways. When someone is let go of a company, they are not fired. The dictionary says the word means, “a state, process, or instance of combustion in which fuel or other material is ignited and combined with oxygen, giving off light, heat, and flame.”
So why are we using this word? I think a more fitting word would be “released”. If employers offer this word instead of “fired” during the exit meeting, it can have a positive effect. In example, “We are releasing you to find a better opportunity for yourself. Your skills, workflow and philosophy isn’t a match for ABC company and we think you will do better with a company that matches your mindset.” This way, the person is released to find a better fit for them. It’s a win-win!
Another word that I hear quite often between managers is the word “attitude”. The dictionary makes it sound ok, “manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, especially of the mind” but the word offers a negative feeling. Whenever an employer says, “Let’s talk about your attitude”, one can assume that it’s not about how good it is. The word “attitude” should be replaced with “demeanor” or “character”. It just sounds better. For example, “James, your attitude around the office is great.” It sounds ok, but doesn’t make the person feel any better. What if we replace the word? “James, your character around the office is great.” To me, it just sounds better and changes the environment to a more positive and politically correct atmosphere. The word even sounds better in court. Wouldn’t it sound better if the judge said, “So, you were let go because of your “character” and you are suing the defendant for damages.” Now, replace the word “character” with “attitude” and you sound more critical and/or harsh. One word changes everything, doesn’t it?
And lastly, the word “statistics” or “stats”. Every proactive business person, when putting together an evaluation of their company to compare competitive and/or economic scenarios, financial management or agility for performance based structures, knows that all statistics are a lie. This is another article all in itself, but to sum up, statistics are always flawed because of human nature. Things get missed or “fall through the cracks” and all statistics that are brought forth never match the true bottom line.
Business owners cringe at the sound of the word because if they have investors, they know all too well that the investors know that what you report isn’t factual. Perhaps investors would rather hear a better word like “census” or “enumeration” when approached with the rough numbers on their investment? When writing a quarterly report for your investors, what words stand out to you that could sound harsh or critical? I believe replacing common words in the workplace will save you a lot of time and money and offer you peace of mind.