Hey Captain Obvious, I know that. Ok ok, yes, the title might enter me in the running for the Captain Obvious or Things I Already Knew award, but give me a few minutes to permit me to make my point.
When I say words have meanings, I am going beyond dictionary definitions. The definition of a word is usually pretty simple and easily found in a dictionary, but the meaning of a word is often more important than the definition.
A quick note about word definition, every word has a definition. Period. In business, use the word as its definition intended it to be used. Slang causes words and phrases to be misinterpreted. Try not to leave the definition of a word usage up to the reader.
A quick example of a foolish incorrect word usage: the local paper in Charleston, the Post and Courier, published the following news article title “Gentile Charleston to be on TV…”. I do not think the paper was referring to the non-Jewish side of Charleston. I confident they meant the “Genteel Charleston to be on TV…”. Silly mistake, but a completely avoidable one that embarrassed the author and editors.
A simple mistake like that could make your company look as foolish to a potential or current client. My wife tells me I am too particular on this issue, but I am a firm believer of a word should be used as it is defined (quick dovetail – The Elements of Style is a great book if you want an easy to read book to help improve your writing skills).
Ok, the definition of the word still has me heading the group for Captain Obvious title, but let me shake that title – I do not want it today.
As I previously stated, the meaning of a word goes beyond the definition of the word. What feeling does a word invoke? What imagines come to mind? What emotions are conjured up by a word? Think of a word having two sides: a logical side and an emotional side.
The logical side is the definition, and the emotional side is the meaning.
I work a lot in real estate, so I will use a real estate example to clarify my point.
Home vs Property
What do you think of when you read or hear the word home?
What do you think of when you read or hear the word property?
Those two words have the same basic definition but drastically different meanings.
Normally, the word home makes someone think of family, comfort, warm and fuzzy and so on, and the word property makes someone think of a building - nothing warm and fuzzy about a building.
Why does it matter? When I speak with a potential seller or a property management client, I use the property. I want the homeowner to disassociate the warm and fuzzy feelings from the home. I want them to think of their emotional home as an investment property. I want them thinking about the numbers and not the emotional connection to the property.
On the reverse side, when I speak with a potential buyer or tenant, I use the word home. I want the buyer or tenant to start to build an emotional connection to the home. I want them to start picturing themselves in the property. I want them creating an emotional connection to the property and not think about the numbers.
Does it always work? Of course not. But, my word usage helps set the table for the connection to the home or property I am trying to create. By attempting to create the connection I want, I am able to work towards the end goal of closing a deal.
Now, take a look at your business. Are there words that have the same basic definition but invoke different emotional responses and feelings? If so, make a conscience effort to use the word with the meaning (emotions) that best suits the response you want.
As you start to focus on the meaning of your word usage, remember the dictionary definition is vitally important as well.
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