We all have them. Words that shut down our listening. When you hear a certain word or detect a certain tone, the conversation is over. On the far end of the scale is yelling and calling someone names outright but there are a lot of other words and phrases that can result in losing good communications. This article got me thinking about this again.
In past articles, we’ve looked at words and attitudes we can take that will almost immediately give us the edge in bringing a potential conflict to a mutually beneficial, win/win solution. From a pleasant, sincere smile to, what I call, “apologizing in advance” when having to take someone away from what they’re used to doing, to many things in between.
Then there is the very opposite. Phrases and attitudes that will take a “negative-leaning” situation and totally accelerate it into – at best, a difficult situation or – at worst, an explosive one. In other words, they just make people bristle.
Some of the things I notice I’ve done include using the wrong pronouns. When working on a collaborative project or effort, to say “me” or “I” very much seems to indicate possession rather than the the teamwork of “we” and “our.” In farming, I’ve noticed saying your farm is “conventional” or “modern” seems like you are suggesting the others aren’t. (Emily Zweber did a great blog post on that topic.)
These seemingly small things become increasingly important when you have very few words to use to get your point across or are talking to a broad swath of people you may not know — and that is exactly what Twitter does. Think about how often you’ve said you would give someone the benefit of the doubt. Then think how often you do that on a first impression.
If you are truly trying to build a diverse community, then you need to look at those things various people who may be part of the community may feel are important. Then try your best to be sure the language you use is inclusive. You want to make sure that your tapping your fingers away, doesn’t result in someone you want to hear putting their fingers in their ears.
What phrases have you found you or others use that turn you off to conversation? Please, if you’ve noticed some of this from me specifically help me learn from my mistakes.