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Two Simple Examples:


“Do!” vs. “Say!” and


“How?” vs. “Why?”


     I’ll never forget the lesson I learned many years ago as a young college professor when I tried using a Gestalt Therapy “Empty Chair Role-Playing” technique with a disgruntled student in a business career development classroom.

     I used the wrong word. The angry student nearly injured at least two or three other students because I said “do” instead of “say.” 

     Facing an empty wooden chair I placed in front of him, I draped my jacket over the back and asked Tony, who was extremely annoyed with his boss, what he would do if his boss was in that jacket sitting in that chair facing him right now.

     Tony strode defiantly toward the empty chair, picked it up and flung it full force over the six rows of floor-divers and ducking heads, smashing it to smithereens against the back wall. Lucky for him (and for me) that no one was hurt.

     You’re the boss, right? Ask any employee WHY she or he was late to work or an appointment or meeting. What’s the response? Ask WHY some operational function broke down or WHY your best customer account had been gradually cutting back their orders while increasing competitive purchases. What are the responses you get?

     The word, “Why?” is a request for reasons. It is a set up for anyone to respond with excuses. Asking “Why?” will never solve a problem.

     The most current example of how this word mix-up fails, comes from a befuddled White House asking why the catastrophic Philadelphia train derailment happened, instead of taking a genuine leadership position and asking “HOW?” . . . “HOW can we fix it?” would certainly have been a better approach and accomplished more. Corrective actions speak louder than analytical investigations. 

     Yes, of course there’s a bit more to this last example. It would seem to most businesspeople rather inconceivable that anything as potentially disastrous as a derailment by a government-run railroad that resulted in at least 7 deaths and hundreds of injuries could be ignored for half a day, and even then, still be preoccupied with where to place blame instead of how to solve the problem.

     So, yes, timing is a critical ingredient in word choice, but difficulties often start and end with the exact words selected and used. Before you might jump to conclusions about some issue in your workspace, you may want to respond prudently instead of react in ways that simply make the situation worse.

     Pause long enough before speaking to consider how the recipient(s) might perceive the words you choose, as well as the integrity of your timing.

     These examples and this discussion are not far-fetched by any means. Imagine such vast differences (as between “do” and “say” or “how?” and “why?”) in word choices you use — or overlook or let slide —  in your advertising, marketing, promotion, public relations, customer service, sales presentation.

     Was it your grandfather who said “think first and speak second”?

   # # #

931,854,0474       Hal@BusinessWorks.US  

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You. 

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson] 

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

One comment so far

One Comment to “WORDS MATTER!”

  1. Hal Alpiar's Blog » A FLY ON THE WALLon 13 May 2015 at 9:32 pm

    […] instead of helping others solve their own problems. So, if that’s the case, just keep asking WHY? Oh, and just keep wishing . . . you might win a trip to […]

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