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Breaking Free of the Mediocre Mindset (Choosing and Using Better Words)
Words have power. They have the power to affect us. Positively or negatively. The words we say. And even the words we think. Our words affect our mindset, which in turn affect our feelings and inform the actions we take. Words spoken and unspoken. Conscious and unconscious. Our words affect the people we speak them to. Words carry energy.
I have noticed for some time now that there is an overall lax in the workplace in terms of the way people communicate to and with customers. Every day, in so many interactions, we hear service professionals being very non-intentional with their words. Saying the same thing over and over to customer after customer. Do we even give any conscious thought to the words we speak?
At a retail or grocery store, “Did you find everything ok?”
A host or hostess to a guest upon entering a restaurant, “Two?”
A restaurant server to the guest, “Is everything ok?” “Are you still doing ok?”
At any business establishment, “Have a good one.” A good what I ask?
At a bank, “I can help.” Not “Hi, how may I help you?” ?
When a customer says “Thank you”, oftentimes the response is “No problem.” What happened to “You’re welcome”? And by the way, why are you not thanking me for my business instead of me just thanking you?
At some establishments, like The Ritz Carlton, they say, “My pleasure” or “It’s my pleasure”. What a difference that is. Which sounds better and conveys a better feeling message; “No problem.” Or “My pleasure”?
What is wrong with saying “Is everything ok?” you ask. Nothing really. But it’s just a word that the only thing it conveys is a sense of average. Mediocrity. Think about it, do you really want your customers to be ok? Or would you prefer their experience to be great, awesome, wonderful, enjoyable?
My mentor and friend, James Dentley, says that average or mediocre is “The best of the worst and the worst of the best. It’s the top of the bottom and the bottom of the top.” Now tell me, is that what you want to be? Average? Mediocre? The words you use reveal what is in your mind. Are you being intentional or are you just using words that you’ve always used everyday and that everybody everywhere always uses?
Yes, I am particular and conscientious about the words I use and choose. But I too, fall into the trap sometimes. In fact, last month when I was speaking at a large sales rally in Chicago, I had just mentioned earlier in my presentation that we should be intentional and aware of the words we use. I even recommended omitting the word “ok” from our vocabulary and replacing it with something that carried more positivity. Then, literally moments after I mentioned this, I said, something like, “Is it ok for us to have fun?” And they all shouted “No it’s not ok. It’s great.” Good to know that they were paying attention and that perhaps I made an impact. The called me out on what I myself was speaking about.
I believe there may be better words for us to use. So, for example, when you mean acceptable, allowed, etc. why not use those words instead of ‘ok’? When you mean comfortable, satisfied or feeling well, why not say that instead of “Are you ok?”
These are just a few examples of what, in my opinion is laziness and a mediocre mindset. I know that these professionals are not intending any negativity by the words they say. However, neither are they putting any conscious effort into conveying a positive energy. They are not setting the tone in an upbeat manner.
When calling a company, oftentimes, the person answering the phone doesn’t even say the name of the company. Sometimes it’s merely, “Hello,” It’s a simple thing, but actually saying, “Thank you for calling Tony’s Bistro. How may I help you?” goes a long way to making the customer feel comfortable. Do you really appreciate their business? How do you show it? Do you answer the phone in a way that sends out a positive, upbeat, and welcoming message? Or does it convey that you really don’t care who’s calling, if anyone is calling or not?
In a day when business in all industries is over-the-top competitive, there has to be a way to stand out amongst the sea of mediocrity. Are you just going through the motions, hour after hour, day after day at your job? Or do you look forward to coming to work, with a positive mindset, an attitude of anticipation, filled with enthusiasm and eager to be of service to your customers?
Do you come to work with a conscious knowing that you have the power to positively impact your customers? With your smile, your attitude, your energy, and your words? You do. Our words have power. Your words have power. What kind of impact do you desire to have upon those that you encounter every day? It’s your choice. Words do have power. But words filled with mediocrity convey no power. Don’t let your words merely convey mediocrity. Don’t ask if everything is ‘ok’. Refuse to think, be or say the word “ok”. It’s a mindset. Do you really want your customers, your guests, your clients to think that your service or product is “ok”? Wouldn’t you love if your customers perceived that doing business with you was a pleasant, exciting, fun, stress free, and enjoyable experience? Something more than just ‘ok’?
In the words of my mentor, Les Brown, “You have greatness within you.” Let your words be one way in which you share that greatness with the world.
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Cheers and God Bless you All!
Christoff J. Weihman
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