Tonight a telemarketer called my Mom’s house. The telemarketer began the call with this: “Can I please speak to the male head of the house?” My Mom hasn’t been married or lived with a male head of household (whatever that is) since 1974. She is a very successful entrepreneur that raised four kids without an ounce of help from anyone (which explains why she is my personal hero).
Fortunately, my Mom is super sweet and has a great sense of humor. But other people may not have been so forgiving. That sort of opening language did nothing to help the company that was calling. It did nothing to help establish a positive association with their brand. It did even less to help them gain a customer. It was an unnecessarily poor choice of words. It hasn’t been 1952 for a long, long time.
This is an example of why language choices matter. And it’s a good opportunity to reflect on the language choices that you make.
What assumptions are embedded in your language?
What beliefs or biases do your language choices reveal?
Are some of the words you choose unnecessarily provocative or insulting to some people?
Do you ask for the decision-maker? What does that suggest about how you are going to treat the real decision-makers whose consensus you are trying to gain? (as one example)