Pop, Soda, Coke… Right Word = Getting Heard

When my husband and I were first married we moved three states away from where we had grown up.

Pop, Soda, Coke, Tonic

And quickly learned that the carbonated beverages we had been consuming for our entire lives were not called POP.

  • In this place they were called SODA!
  • A few years later we moved south and learned that no matter what flavor of carbonated beverage we wanted to consume we needed to order a COKE – and then name our flavor of choice.

As we’ve continued to move I’ve kept a mental list of others…

  • When you throw something away do you CHUCK it or CHUNK it?
  • When you hold onto something have you KEPT it or KEP it?
  • Do you have a kitchen COUNTER or a kitchen BENCH?
  • Does your car have a HOOD or a BONNET? A TRUNK or a BOOT?
  • Do you cook with CORIANDER or with CILANTRO?
  • When you are talking about a friend that is not your spouse… Are they your FRIEND or your MATE?
  • When you go to the store… Do you use a shopping CART or a shopping BUGGY or a TROLLEY?

As fun as the game is – does it really matter what you call it?

A new neighbor was recently in a public setting and shared what she was going to cook for dinner that night. She was quickly advised not to use that term in public places as it describes a woman’s private parts in the local language. (A new learning for many of us.)

A few days later I was visiting with another friend about how terms have changed over the years.

  • In her day a THONG was a FLIP FLOP.
  • And a term that was once used to describe a race of people is now as much of a trigger as a term that is spoken with prejudice and hate.

Both ladies caused me to remember a time I was trying to lead a change from the middle of an organization.

I was about to meet with an operations executive to recommend a change that our team had been piloting for over a year.

  • We’d adopted a process that was costing the company more than $500,000 annually.
  • Transformed it into a process that was generating more than 1 Million in annual revenue.
  • And believed that if this process was successfully implemented at all of the locations in the company it had the potential to bring in nine to ten times that amount.

When I met with the executive, I used a word to describe the process that he could not relate to. (In his mind I’d just called a Coke a Soda.) His brain locked up and no matter what I said after that – he absolutely could not hear the how this process change could add value to the organization.

(…Yes I eventually found a term he related to, but change did not happen until I did!)

At another point in my career, I listened to people that had been sharing their needs for years and were beyond frustrated that they were not being heard.

  • When I investigated their concerns I realized that they were speaking the language of their business,
  • And they were trying to communicate to another business that had their own language.

So I created a short document that translated what they were trying to communicate into the language of the business they were trying to influence.

And then change happened.

In today’s world I hear people expressing how frustrating it is to have to be politically correct about everything.

I agree that it a lot of work to learn the way a part of the world uses a term, or how the meaning of a word has changed over-time.

But here’s the thing – If you want to communicate effectively with others… Ignoring or fussing against their norms won’t increase your ability to be heard or understood. And it definitely won’t help you create changes that support the greater good.

Choosing the right word means you’ve taken the first step to getting heard.

Change never begins out there – It always begins with the person you control – YOU!

  • Your willingness to learn their terms.
  • Your willingness to change how you communicate.
  • Your willingness to persist.

Your Turn!  iStock_000009905754XSmallWhat terms have you had to learn to communicate more effectively with others?

What more on this topic?

Continuous Improvement: Cures The Two-Year Itch

Several years ago I had a long but fun job interview. In that interview I was honest with my prospective employer about my strengths, my passions and my need to be challenged.

Curing the Two-Year Itch to do something else

I pointed to my historical pattern of two years of achieving in a role, before I got bored and needed to learn something new and needed to make a greater difference. (Which usually meant I moved on…)

The interviewer smiled and nodded and shared that he had the same problem. …Until he came to work in this company…

He had my attention.

I had his attention.

And I got the job.

CRISIS!!! The Impact of a Leader’s Response

This is part II in a series to examine how a Leader’s response to a crisis impacts the people and the organizations they lead.  

How a Leader's Respons Impacts a Crisis

Crises are more than LARGE-SCALE natural disasters and acts of hate.

Crises actually occur daily:

  • As economies, regulations, technology and consumer needs CHANGE
  • When dishonest leaders are in charge
  • With an unexpected diagnosis
  • The death of a loved-one
  • The loss of a job
  • The betrayal of a spouse
  • The negative choices of a family member
  • _________________________ (What else would you add?)


Below are several stories and lessons from others…


“Around 1990 the executive team where I was working for an insurance company called department meetings to announce they were looking for a buyer for the company.

As much as I liked the men who led the company, they didn’t handle their communication effectively. Their presentation caused instant animosity, distrust, and speculation.

In the end the company wasn’t sold for many years. But the damage done way back then is still felt by employees today who were working there back then.”  ~Jane Anderson

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.  H. P. Lovecraft


Have you personally witnessed leadership in a crisis?

Current events and a class I’m taking have me thinking about how people lead in a crisis.

How do leaders act during a crisis?

So I reached out to my network and asked:

  • Have you personally witnessed great leadership in a crisis?
  • If so what did you see, feel and experience?

The answers I got back were fascinating.

  • One person told a story of a life and death experience.
  • Everyone else shared a work-related experience that impacted them emotionally and sometimes physically.

Think about that for a minute…

In the face of horrific current events in our worldwork related crises impact so many more lives!

And just in case you are tempted to dismiss work-related experiences as something that could be called a crisis, check out how Webster defines the word:    noun cri·sis \ˈkrī-səs\: plural cri·ses  \ˈkrī-ˌsēz\:

  • An emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person’s life
  • The decisive moment
  • An unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending; especially : one with the distinct possibility of a highly undesirable outcome

Before I share their stories, I’d love to hear your stories as well.  Please share!  


Leadership meand understanding others

Is forgiveness an overlooked leadership skill?

If you’re like me – You believe in the faith-based and health-based reasons to practice forgiveness.


But have you ever considered that forgiveness might be an important leadership skill?

In the book Picking Cotton, two people share their true story:

  • They are both 23.
  • She’s white, a senior in college with a 4.0 and looking forward to starting her career, marrying her boyfriend and having a family.
  • He is a person of color, working, and has a history of making some unwise choices.

One night she is at home alone and a man breaks into her apartment and rapes her.Picking Cotton

She is able to escape and eventually identifies this man as her rapist.

He insists that she is mistaken.

She is convinced that her memory is correct and makes a strong witness for the prosecution.

He is convicted and goes to prison for 11 years. (In spite of the fact that he continually says he is innocent, in spite of the fact that he meets the man in prison that actually committed the crime, and in spite of the fact that his blood type does not match the blood type found at the scene.)