Caroline Myss, one of my favourite authors, tells us “each word is a universe”, or perhaps easier to get our head around “words have power”.
That is, every word we use has power to help us find a solution, or to keep us firmly stuck in a ground hog day-esque “not this again” cycle.
Every word also has the power to put up the barriers to those who can help us achieve our objectives, or bridge the gap to working effectively together towards a common goal.
One commonly used word in Procurement teams is Maverick which I would suggest might not always be that helpful.
What words come to mind when you read the word maverick?
Resistant? Unhelpful? Awkward? Rebel?
All terms procurement teams I've been with were meaning when using the term maverick about their stakeholder(s).
It's not helpful, therefor, if I’ve labelled an internal stakeholder as being a maverick, because the word will inform my behaviour towards the stakeholder.
It’s certainly not too easy to be open, honest and receptive to someone we think is going to start a rebellion any minute now!
I was surprised therefore, when I looked at the definition of maverick, as it describes people who were unorthodox or independently minded.
What words come to mind when you read the word independent?
Confident? Assured? Knows their own mind?
Words I contend that illicit a different behaviour towards those very same stakeholders we were earlier labelling as maverick?
Next time you label someone as maverick you may want to replace it with independent and notice what you notice. It might just open some doors that were previously very resistantly closed.
What words do you notice that have power to generate a less than helpful response from others? Or are there any words that push your buttons and bring out an unintended and negative response for you? My post on changing 'looking for answers' to 'searching for solutions' is another great example of the power of words.
Other posts exploring the metaphor contained within our language that we might use when wanting to develop improved relationships with stakeholders includes:
It's also what my book Can't see the wood for the trees is all about. I use idioms such as; stuck in a rut, up the creek without a paddle, going round in circles to find different perspectives to getting back on track when we've a belief that we're stuck.
I'm more than happy to be involved in facilitating a session with your team to explore the unhelpful words, behaviours and mindsets that are stopping you really delivering value to your organisation. If you want to find out more call or email me firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)7770 538159