Being Language Aware

How ‘help’ and ‘need’ can become the four letter words of disempowerment

Working with many clients who are experts in leadership, change, organisational culture and transformation, I’ve noticed that often their positioning, on the web, in promotional pieces, in advertising and proposal writing includes the words HELP or NEED.

These insidious four letter words appear everywhere telling people and organisations that they lack certain skills, products or understanding, and that by buying x program or y service they’ll be transformed from the ‘not good enough’ person or organisation they currently are to the potentially amazing person or entity they could be.

Of course, there are times when it is appropriate to use these words; what I’m asking for is that we become more aware of the subtleties that certain words can convey. Being conscious of the underlying impact of our words leads to more conscious communication.

I love it when individuals or organisations CHOOSE to acquire new skills, to shift attitudes and transform, thus fulfilling and living their potential. It’s the conscious choice and personal responsibility of each individual that truly transforms the person and when a group of individuals choose new ways of leading and interacting, they will create a culture capable of transforming an organisation.

No-one external to the individual can decide what they need or whether help is required. When I assume I know what others are lacking it implies they are not whole enough as they are, and robs them of the choice to decide what areas and skills they want to focus on.

We all know the power of intrinsic motivation – by choosing to do something myself, I feel emboldened and empowered to change what is currently not working for me. Having the support of wonderful mentors, coaches, leaders and colleagues is important too – to support me in my choice.

So yes, as facilitators and trainers we have a very important role to support and facilitate individuals and organisations in their conscious choice to change and / or acquire new skills – do they need our help? No. Are we there to support them if they choose to take a new path? Absolutely!

PS – This topic also brought up the notion of the ‘self-help’ industry, which immediately suggests there is something wrong with how I am now. I prefer ‘self development’ which suggests a progressive path forward from where I am now, without judging that starting place as good or bad.

Written By Fiona Pearman


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Shared with permission of Fiona Pearman, Brand Illumination Pty Limited.    T +61 2 9973 2696

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