The power of language | Special events
We rely on language in all aspects of our lives, both personally and professionally. From what you write on your website to what you say to your partner after a long day, words form the fabric of your lived experience and can lead to success or failure, depending on how you use them.
And when you’re running a service-based business in sales, marketing, and customer service, the language you use has a direct impact on your bottom line.
Yet changing languages isn’t as easy as automating text shortcuts on your phone. Since the dawn of time, humans have learned the language of the people around them. We pick up social cues, common expressions and slang terms from family and friends. But in today’s hyperconnected world, we are also influenced by societal expectations confounded by the media and a wide range of online communities.
For example, women are often “conditioned” to use restrictive language, words and phrases that demonstrate weakness or humility rather than confidence and tenacity. In a business context, such a pattern can prevent a person from reaching their full potential.
Yet, with contributions coming from all directions, it can be difficult to let go of behavioral habits associated with language in an ever-changing society.
Here are some tips for organizing the words you use about yourself and your business.
Cool down on the excuses.
Apologizing is a powerful tool when you’ve wronged someone, but it’s a commonly adopted word as a defense mechanism, even when it’s not necessary. Apologizing to a client tricks them into believing you did something wrong, even if it’s as simple as responding to an email a few hours later. The more the “sorry” adds up, the more a customer begins to see you as the offending party, placing you in a position of lower status in their eyes.
Search your inbox for the term “sorry”. You’ll be shocked how many times you’ve apologized for simply having boundaries. Instead, use uplifting phrases such as “Thank you for your patience” or “I appreciate your feedback,” which acknowledge the other person’s efforts without hurting your self-esteem.
Skip unnecessary add-ons.
There are many words and phrases that creep into our everyday language that don’t seem very important at first, but can trigger subconscious thoughts about you and your service.
For example, the term “fair” is widely overused, but often in ways that diminish your position and power. “Just check in” and “Checking in” communicate the same idea, but the latter is more direct and will inspire more engaging responses.
Other phrases to leave behind include:
- “Really”: Often used when someone does not feel heard, “in fact” adds little to a statement. Instead, state your opinion clearly and directly.
- “I’m no expert, but…”: Yes you are! To lead by this phrase is to ask someone else to affirm that what you have said is valid and accurate. If you already know this is the case, forget the self-deprecating verbiage and speak with confidence.
- “But”: A small but powerful word, “but” can sound like you’re setting up an argument. Pay attention to its use and, if possible, try to replace it with “instead”, “however” or “and” to lessen the impact.
- “Does that make sense?”: When you follow an explanation with this sentence, either you are telling a client that you are unsure of your communication skills Where that you assume they’re not smart enough to understand. Change that to “I look forward to your thoughts”, or even a simple “Thoughts?” to prompt for a response.
Don’t underestimate yourself.
Think about the work you do for your clients. How do you describe it? Is it just down-to-earth language that tells them exactly what they’re getting? Or is it related to emotional triggers and visuals that paint the picture of the true value you provide?
For example, the term “coordination day” understates the work involved in any event services package. You are not only precious on a wedding day! You also take on far more responsibilities than “coordination” – you are a planner and a producer. Own your space and what you do for your customers.
Lean in discomfort.
Changing languages may seem difficult at first. You will notice that you forget to omit a particular word or that you reject certain sentences. But like any habit, it’s like toning a muscle – you have to practice and keep challenging yourself. Stay tuned and aware of the words you use, and soon the apologetic and self-demeaning comments will be uncomfortable instead.
Conscious language is about communicating with others so they can receive it the way you want. As you evolve alongside the world and the language itself, stay mindful to examine how you speak, write, name your packages, and demonstrate your brand value.
When you are mindful of how you communicate with others, your customers will feel seen, understood, and affirmed in their decision to move forward with you. Being an entrepreneur is about more than what you do for your customers. It’s about self-examination and constantly working to improve. Self-awareness is the key to success, and the language you use in (and out of) business is the first place to start.
Renée Dalo is the owner and chief urban planner of Moxie Light Events, a Los Angeles-based wedding planning company. With over 12 years of experience under her belt, Renée has focused her knowledge on advancing the industry as a whole with her self-guided online wedding management course and her popular B2B podcast, Talk With Renée Dalo. Renée is a fan favorite on the speaker circuit, speaking at national and international conferences across the country, including Alt Summit, Wedding MBA, and Creative at Heart, among others. She is recognized in the industry, having earned a coveted spot on Honeybook’s 20 On The Rise list, and is a frequent contributor to industry publications. She is currently President of WIPA Southern California and has also held leadership positions with the Association of Bridal Consultants and the Rising Tide Society.