When talking with employees, especially when giving them feedback, the words we use can put them on their heels or on their toes.
Sometimes managers unintentionally choose words that put their employees on the defensive, or what I call on their heels. This is usually the result of starting feedback with what is perceived by the employee as an accusatory statement.
"Why didn't you bother to tell that customer about the GWP?"
"I don't think you care about your sales results."
"How come you didn’t offer the customer desert?"
"You had plenty of time to get that order out."
Anytime a person is back on their heels they're less likely to hear the message and apply the feedback. They’re going to spend all of their energy defending themselves.
The goal is to choose words that inspire people to listen, or put them on their toes leaning in, if you will.
"I have a few ideas of ways you can engage your customers with the GWP.
"I see your sales been lagging over the past few days. Let's sit down and discuss it."
"I noticed that you didn’t offer that last table desert. Here’s why it is so important that every customer gets to experience our delicious deserts.”
"Before you go, let's spend two minutes and talk about how your day went."
It's clear which statements the employee is more likely to listen to and apply the feedback.
The same holds true with customers. The words we choose either put them on their heels or toes.
"Do you have any questions?" and "How may I help you?" can put some customers on their heels.
"Let me show you..." and "Welcome. Let me tell you about...." will put more customers on their toes.
I encourage you to listen carefully to the words you use with your staff and customers, and determine if it is putting them on their heels or on their toes.
So let me ask, are you more likely to put someone on their heels or their toes?
About Doug: Doug Fleener, the former director of retail for Bose Corporation, is a speaker and consultant known for bring fresh approaches and powerful actionable ideas to clients and audiences around the world. Learn more at DougFleener.com.