In a previous post, I wrote about how words carry tone and nuance. In that post, The Power of Words: Rescuing a Bailout, I was talking about the $70 billion financial package that had morphed from bailout to rescue in an attempt to gin up Congressional and public support.
But sometimes, it’s not the masses you are trying to influence with the right words. You may be trying to impact a local issue, or maybe just one person—your boss, your spouse, a colleague or donor.
I was again reminded of the power of words while working on a project for the Land Trust Alliance. We are helping to repurpose Land Trust Alliance's extensive collection of course workbooks for online learners. The Alliance consists of more than 1100 local land trusts working with landowners to preserve land through conservation easements.
The Alliance recognizes the crucial role that communication plays in developing partnerships with landowners and in monitoring and enforcing existing conservation easements. To facilitate communication, Leslie Ratley-Beach, the Alliance's Conservation Defense Director has put together a list of words that solve problems (which she's called Partnership/Problem-Solving Messages) versus words that are adversarial (which she's called Policing/Enforcement Messages).
This list is a great example of the power of the right
word—and is helpful to anyone whose job involves negotiation, regulation,
or legal issues.
Words that Solve Problems Adversarial Words Annual visit Monitoring Visit Inspection Follow-up Enforcement Resolution Compliance Checking Policing Conversation Negotiation Creative problem-solving Litigation Upholding the conservation easement Conformance Concerns Violations Questions Concerns Deter Prevent Identify Detect Scheduled Assigned Possible Suspected
[Source: Conservation Easement Stewardship, Land Trust Alliance, 2008]
Do you have a similar list of problem-solving or adversarial words in your organization? Maybe the Land Trust Alliance's list will inspire you to create one. If so, we'd love to see it!
-- Marilynne Rudick