Are You Using the Right Words to Connect?

When the pandemic kicked in full force, when we started to take it seriously, we also shifted our words.

What words we started using – started changing the use of – has had a direct impact on how we connect, and how we also feel disconnected.

Some of these words we commonly used (or at least weren’t rare) and we reframed them.

A lot of these words in their new-reality roles got convoluted.

So it’s time to take a look at – and listen to – the words we are using them.
They’re the foundation of our connection and disconnection, and are due our diligence to pay attention.
Frankly, it’s time to sunset many of them and totally replace them.

Here are my Top 10:
Words to Purge

1. Virtual
2. Normal
3. Remote
4. Busy
5. But
6. Failure
7. Expectation
8. No Problem
9. Just
10. Soft Skills

Words to Use
1. Online
2. Current reality
3. Workplace
4. Full
5. And
6. Lesson
7. Agreement
8. My Pleasure
9. (none needed)
10. Communication

1. Virtual ISN’T reality – it’s augmented, created, not-real. We mean online – web-based platforms. If you’re wearing goggles and engaging in virtual reality, then have at it. Otherwise, knock it off and switch.

2. Having never been *ahem* accused of being normal, life by the literal nature of it is dynamic. Saying normal sets us up for rigidity that simply isn’t real. There’s no new normal either (DANGER!!!), so current reality is suitable always.

3. Spices and coffee and timber – oh my!! As long as we’ve hankered to travel, we’ve worked around the globe. Using the term remote has a patina to it that smacks of isolation. Plus, why-does-it-even-matter-where-we-are-working from?! Some of us (21 years and counting for yours truly) have worked where ever, for a looong time.  Actually geography is irrelevant; the shift to making work places where we want and need them is what matters.

4. Busy is Bunkus. It’s been used for a long time in either A. the bragging “look at me, I’m so busy” baloney or B. as an excuse to learn how to figure our your own schedule or C. under the thumb (by choice) of someone who you’re letting run your days. Busy isn’t wise nor productive – and you’ll notice I didn’t offer productive as the WTU. Think instead about: what do you want to fill your days with? How will you feel great about trading hours for activities that bring you joy and fulfillment and meaning.

5. And is additive. But is dismissive. And it’s never needed (yes, never). ‘Nuf said.

6. The glamourization of Failure makes me nervous and furious. It’s giving permission to help us equate experiences with non-learning. Not true. Trying, attempting, experimenting, learning, lessons. Different results or outcomes or experiences. This is what life is about. It’s also why at the end of each chapter in my Connectivity Canon I share a “Try This” exercise to put the lesson into motion. Life isn’t about getting what we think we ‘exactly’ want. It’s about thinking, intention, trying and learning.  To try and get a different outcome than desired is a lesson, not failure.

7. Expectation is ex-ternal. It’s someone else’s desire, or our convoluted thinking that there’s an exactitude ahead. An agreement is thoughtful, mutual, inclusive, kind. Since I started my business I’ve drafted and used Letters Of Agreement – they automatically engender “this is us working together” vs the concrete and brittle mindset of absolute expectation. Job Agreements vs Job Expectations are one of thee best ways to improve your organizational culture too, by the way. Agreement = we. Expectation = Me and You, separate.

8. Unless you’re from a country where the casual parlance is no problem, there’s a HUGE problem with this sloppy phrase. Double negatives for starters set us up for feeling like we owe someone something if they say “no problem” to a request. My Pleasure is a mindset and a genuine service-forward think. This one really grinds my ax…and I hope it grinds yours too. My Pleasure, Of Course, Here to Help are all soooo much better.

9. Just is limited, dismissive, belittling. It’s toxic sauce we use to lessen ourselves and others. It’s passive aggressive in some cases, such as “just saying.” (ick) Ditch it, right now. Instead – you don’t need anything. Simply state what you want to state, as the question you want to ask without just showing up.

10. Skills aren’t textured. Skills are learned, possible, and valuable. There’s no contest, or ego to them so permanently banish the term soft skills (and hard skills simultaneously). When we assign the word soft to something, it conjures up squishy (another no-no unless your mashing bananas), or less important (highly untrue), or unnecessary (yikes). Communication skills are often the most desired – ever seen a job posting “Must have excellent communication skills”? Yea, that’s what I’m writing about here. STOP calling communication and interpersonal skills soft. Give them the full respect they deserve.

Words inherently aren’t bad or good. they’re words.
It’s up to US to learn how impactful they are – they are the front line of connection because our words are how we predominantly communicate these days.

Use the lists above; challenge and change; grow and experience the positive difference one word change can make.
Please reply and tell me what you choose to change, and the impact you notice. I love getting your stories of what’s working.


Like this? What more?

There are runner’s ups to this Top 10 that I teach in workshops, on-premise and online. In fact, the newsletter sign-up thank you gift right now is still the full Words to Use & Words To Purge List I teach leaders & teams, conference attendees, and retreat guests. (note: it’s changing soon!)

The full Language of Connection program is available too; delivered online (easily, effectively, efficiently) and in person, as well as in combo form (Combo is a better word than hybrid by the way. You’re welcome). Excellent for leaders like Brian, below.

“Ginger, Thank you for an amazing 20-minute segment!  You were on-point and inspiring, and the feedback is effusively positive!” – Brian Duff, Head of Sales, FirstService Residential

Call me today if you want to schedule your own series. It’s an excellent program for growth-focused organizations. 
World HQ 515 450 7757

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Ginger, here.

Even thoughisn't the word they always use, it's what my clients mean when they say:

Even thoughisn't the word they always use, it's what my clients mean when they say:

  • "We want our team to come together, yet we don't know how to make that happen."
  • “We want our employees to create exceptional customer experiences.”
  • “We want a culture where people openly share ideas and participate in growth.”
  • “We want our people to love their work.”
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