Choose Your Words Carefully

Can Choosing a Different Word Affect Your Outlook?

In Robert Cialidni’s book called Pre-Suasion, he tells a story about being invited to speak to a group. This was no ordinary group, they had received many excellence awards over the years, a top-notch organization on all levels. Before the presentation, Mr. Cialdini went over his presentation with six different employees, so he could get a wide range of feedback. One of the feedback items was the use of “Bullet Points”. It wasn’t that he couldn’t use bullet points in his presentation, calling them bullet points wasn’t acceptable.  The healthcare group had a conscious policy not to use words that are associated with violence.  He was told he could use “Information Points”.  Other words they consciously choose are:

  • Instead of “Attacking” a problem, they “Approach” it
  • Instead of business “Targets” they have “Goals”
  • Instead of “Beating” the competition, they “Outdistance” themselves from the competition

Robert Cialdini’s first book was called Influence, which discusses things that go on beneath our conscious awareness that ultimately influence our decisions. Of all the things he researched over the years, he didn’t put much thought into word choice.  At first he thought, “Geez, this is silly” when asked to use the alternative words, but now he calls himself a convert, especially after looking at the research on the subject.

As a healthcare organization, this group decided they weren’t going to let anything get in the way of a healing environment for their employees or patients. Can you make that same commitment?  Can you make the commitment to yourself? Be mindful of your self-talk, find words that support achievement like attain, succeed, master. Making this slight change can make a big difference, try it with me, and let me know how it works.

Dr. Brian