Category Archives: Social Media

But That’s Not What I Meant

Words can persuade.  Words can hurt.  Words can calm.  Words matter.

Whether it’s convincing, providing services/care, managing a project or anything else in operating an agency or organization – words matter.  Here are 3 ways to use words to your advantage.

Know your client’s/donor’s language

Words do not always mean the same thing to everyone.  Take the word superficial as an example.  To someone in the medical profession a superficial wound means something not very serious, a surface injury.  Outside of the medical community, if we describe a person as superficial we think they are shallow.  If we think a situation is superficial we consider it insignificant.  So to an ER doctor a wound that is superficial is good; to a client whose need is called superficial by your program manager, it is an insult.  If you do not understand the lingo of your clients/donors you run the risk of insulting them or being misunderstood.  It does take research and listening to know the language of others, but the effort can set you apart from funding competitors and help you accomplish your mission.

Use language your partners understand

If you believe the premise in the previous paragraph then you probably think that your partners should make the effort to know your language and you would be right.  However, if they don’t you will suffer.  Here is an illustration:  You are on the road and almost get hit by another car.  You think, if we wreck it will be the other person’s fault.  You may be right, but you will still be in a wreck.  If you are the lead on a project/program and your partners do not understand your need, time-frame or whatever you could suffer if you do not adjust.  A good truth to remember is that just because someone should does not mean they will.

Speak softly and carry a big stick

Or as my Grandmother used to say, sugar catches more flies than vinegar.  If you start out using kind words you are likely to get cooperation.  If you do not get cooperation then you can resort to stiffer language.  If you start out with vinegary words you may get cooperation or at least action.  But if you do not get what you need, you are at a disadvantage.  Do you use tougher language or do you try to drop back and use nice language?  The typical tactic is to get tougher.  Then even if you get what you want, you usually don’t feel like a winner.  And what happens next time, because if you started out with vinegary words there will likely not be a next time.

In closing let me give you an extreme example to help you remember that words matter.  In South Carolina, my home state, and in some other Southern states the word “Shag” is a dance done to beach music.  In England the word “shag” is a slang expression for sex.  I’ll let you think of ways this word could cause embarrassment, confusion, insult or amusement.  But you get the point — if you don’t understand the other person’s language the outcome will not likely be what you want it to be.

Guard Your Professional Reputation

As Social Media continues to grow in reach and scope it is very important to represent your organization/agency and yourself as professional.  It is important to keep your professional interactions separate from personal ones on Social Media websites such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.  Much has been said said about how the wrong postings on can hurt chances for employment.  The same advice applies to your organization or agency.  Any posting you, or anyone who represents your organization puts online reflects on your organization.  The easiest way is to keep them separate — have a page/presence for your organization and one for yourself.  You may also want to make the personal one available only to friends, while the organization one can be open to the public so that you can use it more effectively to promote your programs and services.

Keeping your reputation and image positive is important everywhere.  Here is one of the Actions in my book 101 Winning Marketing Actions for Small Businesses. Just replace the business references with ones that are applicable to your organization.

Action #93  Keep your reputation positive.

If you do not live up to the promises and claims you make, you will lose existing Customers/Clients or never really have a chance with a new Prospect.  Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the moment and say yes when you should not.  Be sure that you do not sign the contract unless you know you can do everything promised and required in the manner it must be done according to the specified schedule.  Remember that word-of-mouth is the best or worst friend of a Small Business; if you do fall victim to over promising or committing, people will know.  Also, many government agencies and businesses can, and may, exclude you from future bidding and consideration if you fail to meet your commitments.

Remember that it is better to be known well by a few than to be known widely for the wrong reasons.

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