Thanks to Gayle Valeriote for posting this thought provoking article, “Words Matter, Even the Ones Nobody Sees”*, and to Susan Detwiler for starting a wonderful discussion in the NPCons Facebook group around the CEO vs. Executive Director titles.
From the day you began your current role, you have depended on the power of words. Would you be a “consultant”, “coach”, “facilitator”, or something more exotic? How well does this perception fit with how you want to be seen? Should you use your own name for your business or choose something that paints a picture of your work? Do you have clients or partners? Do you market to or engage with those clients/partners? As the article Gayle shared points out, it isn’t just about the fancy, formal words we announce to the world, but the internal references that shape our thinking. When we label and categorize the people we work with, how does that affect the way we treat them?
The organizations we work with come to us with their own language. The titles they use tell us something about the way they perceive themselves and their place in the organization and community. The language they use to talk about their work gives us a feel for their culture and world view. We listen for alignment between the stories told behind closed doors and the face they present to the public. At each step of our work, the power of words matters.
Do we, and our clients, recognize the opportunity that power creates? Words can move people to action, signal cultural change or shape self-perception or be used to reinforce existing systems and lines of authority. The words we choose shape every action we take, whether building a business culture or helping clients communicate more effectively with those stakeholders they most want to reach.
This month in our NPCons tweetchat, we will be answering some of the following questions:
- What do I call myself and how do people perceive me and my work based on that title?
- If I could choose a title that truly reflects the way I want to be seen, what would it be?
- What language do I use in my business that helps me show my best self to my clients?
- How does the language I use with my clients/partners affect the ways we work together?
- How do I help my partners examine the power of the language they use and intentionally choose words that reflect who they are and want to be?
Please join us for another engaging, fast-paced tweetchat on Tuesday, February 17th at 1 PM PT, US. We look forward to seeing you there!