Select Page

At a time when the national discussion is focused on whether or not “words matter”, I’m going out on a limb and asserting…Yes. They do. Always.

close up of hand with pen writing on paper

An unintended part of my electrical education, while working in the field, was about language. Clients sort of fell into two camps; those who respected what the Electrician (or HVAC, or Plumber) was there to do, and those who did not.

People who showed respect not only acted respectfully, they spoke in respectful language. Their tone was one of respect. They asked thoughtful questions, wanted to hear what the electrician had to say, often took his/her advice.

This extended to me as well. As the Lighting Designer on the job, I was tied to the electrician. Sometimes I was shown the same respect, sometimes a little more; I think that was because the “design” aspect was sometimes held higher in the client’s perceptions than the installation. This was an error on the client’s part; I don’t feel the specification trumps the realities of the installation.

There were, however, people who treated the trades on the job as second- class citizens. As an example, I will never forget the client at a custom home project who kept referring to the electrician as “the little man”. The electrician was enormously gracious about this, and ignored it. I, however, blew a gasket one day, and after he left our presence, turned to the client and said, “ You DO realize that he is the person that makes sure that all of your systems will turn on as needed, run safely, and that your house won’t burn down? His name is John.”

What we say and how we say it matters. It conveys so much about our personality, ego, beliefs, experience, and our education. Every time we open our pie holes OR share thoughts in an email, posting, or tweet, we are revealing who we are.

When I transact business, I want to be clear, concise, and understood the first time- I may not get a second chance to present my case. I want to be sure the other party actually hears what I say. In order for them to listen to me or take in my written proposal effectively, I need to strike a tone that allows communication to flow freely.

The Golden Rule kicks in here for me too; if I don’t appreciate being insulted, belittled, or dismissed, I should not communicate that way myself. Do unto others…

Choose your words carefully. Be sure of your intent and their impact before saying or deploying them. Promote civility.

It’s good business.

Jenny Boone             
Business Development, IEC Chesapeake