Sales and Service: Land of Promises and Land of Broken Promises!

Sales people are forever making promises and service people always let them down. We need to remember how much we need each other or we will all go broke!

Sales: The Land of Promises

Have you ever worked in sales and had to work with the service department to keep customers satisfied with your post-sales support?

I have been in sales for a number of years. I learned, sometimes the hard way, just how much I needed the service department’s support in order to be successful. Here are just a few things that can make a world if difference:

And those are just a few.

When I was designing small to medium business technology solutions, I would often spend time with technicians in the service department bouncing ideas off them before making a pitch to a client. That feedback prevented me from embarrassing myself or them in the eyes of the client.

sales information exchangeThe salesperson is the public face of the company. They are expected to:

  • Identify need;
  • Clarify need by asking probing questions;
  • Handle objections;
  • Help client make a buying decision.

It’s when this process breaks down that the land of broken promises starts to develop. One unanswered or unasked question at a time.

Land of Broken Promises

In an ideal world, the service department is your before and after sales support that gives you good decision making information before the sale and then keeps the customer satisfied with your solution after the sale.

When we land in Broken Promises, it’s usually because of at least one of these things:

  • Bad technical information;
  • Poor Communication;
  • Unexpected problems during delivery;
  • Unrealistic expectations;
  • Dishonesty.

person cryingInformation and Communication

Bad technical information isn’t necessarily the fault of your technical/service support. You may not have asked the right questions or truly understood what the client needed. You need to ask enough questions that the client almost starts to become annoyed. Then you have to do the same to your technical/service support people!

It’s better to have a client tell you they are not willing to go through the pain to achieve their objective, or a technician to tell you your plan won’t work, than you have to go through the pain of resolving a conflict with the risk of having an unsatisfied client out there telling everyone their experience. It takes 10 client success stories to make up for the one that got away!

Unexpected problems are usually the result of not asking enough questions. There could be a mixture of generations of technology and the client forgot how old something was but it is an important part of their business. This caused a problem with your solution but guess what? You’re the professional. You are supposed to know everything. At least, that’s what the client believes. 

Expectations

Clients may have unrealistic expectations. You did such a great job “selling” your solution, they expect it to solve all their problems without a hitch. This is a good place to pre-handle objections. For example, I had a client ask me if I could I could guarantee they would never have a problem with me or my company. My response was that this is a long term relationship and I can guarantee that we will face a challenge at some time. The difference is that I won’t hide from or run from a problem. Note earlier I used the word challenge? There is no such thing as a problem!

Set expectations up front. How will cost be handled? Build in a bumper and be clear it’s to allow for the unexpected. Oops! I guess that’s expected now. Be clear that you are willing to face up to disagreements as long as they are handled with respect, and so on.

Dishonesty is a real problem. Many times it’s the client that is guilty. They knew about a potential challenge but hoped it wouldn’t show up. Out of embarrassment, they may try to transfer the guilt to you. Don’t get caught up in the blame game. If you made a mistake, own it and ask forgiveness while proposing a solution that shouldn’t really cost your client. If it’s the client, don’t apologize but recognize this is one of those “challenges” you expected you might face. Offer a way for the client to save face with as little cost to them as possible.

The Land of Broken Promises is a horrible place. Try your best to stay out of there and help your team support people stay there with you. You are the leader. Lead!

Make it a great day,

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for great teachers. I’m thankful for great clients. I’m thankful for opportunities to learn. What are you thankful for today?

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Family Affairs, The Years Just Melt Away

Family affairs can be painful. Or, they can be refreshing and rejuvenating! How do you feel when family gets together and you meet people you haven’t seen in years or maybe even never met?

Family Affairs Can Be Fun!

Family affairs are an opportunity to reconnect. Sometimes there are issues that have lived beneath the surface for some time and we just needed time to process and heal. Other times, life just gets in the way. Getting together can be a time to mend fences and rediscover each other. Then the fun begins!

What do I call a “family affair”?

  • Family Affairs birthday photoChristmas parties or gathering for meals;
  • Funerals (Too many of those lately!);
  • Weddings (Looking forward to the next generation!);
  • Birthdays
  • Travelers (Long distance visits.).

Christmas is my favourite time of year because most of us are in a giving and forgiving mood. I love seeing family and I find most make the effort to connect during this season. Believe it or not, even funerals can turn out to be fun. They give us a reason to get together in one place and share our feelings. I like to share fun memories of the person we lost and this generally results in feeling much better than when I walked in. Weddings! Dance the night away!

Family Affairs - UncleTravelers can give us an excuse to connect. This one is more of a choice. I recently had a great experience because I chose to overcome some discomfort to make the connection. My uncle was traveling from almost the other side of the country and I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years. To his credit, he is the one that most often comes to us.

In this case, I had been going through some physical discomfort and connecting meant I had to extend my day, drive a combined four hours and have a really short night’s sleep before going back to work the next morning. When I heard that an aunt I hadn’t seen in over 20 years was also going to be there, I decided this had to happen. I could always take an extra pill for the pain and call in sick if I had to!

Why Should You Make Time For Family Affairs?

You should make time for family affairs because you never know who might show up or what you might learn!

When my uncle said he was coming in from out west, he posted on Facebook that we should all meet at my nephew’s bar in Hamilton. Serve Ping Pong Bar & Lounge at 7PM. I showed up about a half hour early and no sign of anyone. The staff had no idea we were coming. Oops? Did I have the wrong date? I checked Facebook and verified I got it right. About 10 minutes after, they showed up. The rest of the family started to arrive closer to 7:30. Figures, the out of town people got there first!

Who showed up?

  • Family Affairs photoMy aunt and uncle (Dad’s brother) from half way across the country;
  • Me from Barrie. (Hamilton folks think that’s on the other side of the world!);
  • My aunt (Dad’s sister) that I hadn’t seen in over 20 years, and her husband I had never met;
  • My cousin (His Dad was my Dad’s brother) and all of his family;
  • My sister, her husband and kids.

Ironically, my sister is the only one who almost always shows up and the rest of us are almost never there due to distance and sometimes just life. I am so glad I made it! I would have missed a number of people I hadn’t seen in years.

Amazing what you might learn!

  • My sister learned more about my deceased grandfather than she ever knew, and maybe didn’t want to!
  • I learned more about why I rarely saw my aunt, not what I expected.
  • My aunt, who divorced my uncle years ago, recognized the closeness of the Clermont family.
  • I have some amazing young cousins!

I have no idea what, if anything others may have learned but I would put money on learning everyone had a great time and learned a lot. 

When I arrived in Hamilton, I put enough money in the parking meter for two hours. I didn’t leave until over four hours after I got there. That’s a good measure of whether or not I had a good time! Trust me, when you have to drive an hour and a half home after traveling and a long day at work, you don’t stay later than you have to unless you are willing to pay the price. I got three hours sleep last night and don’t regret a minute of the time I spent with my family.

Next time you are invited to a family affair, think carefully before you say no. You may be missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime. When you get together at family affairs like this one, the years just melt away and you leave feeling rejuvenated!

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? Family Affairs! Serve Ping Pong Bar & Lounge. Sliders! What are you thankful for today?

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How can you say no if you don’t know what you are saying no to?

Have you ever caught yourself saying no to something a friend tries to ask you to look at when you don’t really even no what they are asking?

Is Saying No Automatic?

Most of us have friends and family who are involved in things we know nothing about. They may try to involve us and ask us to take a look at whatever it is.

  • It may be a volunteer organization close to their heart.
  • It may be a sport they are passionate about.
  • It may be a product or service they are excited about.
  • It may be a business opportunity.

NoHow many times have you caught yourself being a bit of a crab and saying no automatically just because they have approached you about something before that you weren’t interested in and expect the same this time?

You may have just missed the answer to a problem you have or maybe even one you didn’t realize you have. By saying no, you have sent your friend or family member the message you don’t care enough about them to hear what they have to say and that you don’t care enough about yourself and family to make sure you consider all options for a solution. Are you being fair to yourself?

Is it No or Not Right Now?

Before you can answer this question, you need to take the time to understand what the question really is. If I ask you if you want to sign up for a LegalShield membership or whether you need online marketing tools, I need to understand if whatever I want to show you is a fit and you need to understand what I have to offer. That’s the first step.

Your friend or family member may be asking you to participate in a business opportunity. If you answer “there is no way I would ever get involved in one of those pyramid schemes”, there are two issues. First, you don’t understand what multi-level marketing is, second, you have possibly closed a door without looking through to see what is on the other side and denied yourself a potential solution to a current problem or future opportunity.

Once you have at least taken the time to hear your friend or family member, you have a better idea of what you are saying no to. Now it’s fair to decide if it’s no or not right now. 

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for a new day. I’m thankful for people with open minds. I’m thankful for you! What are you thankful for today?


 

 

 

 

 

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Knowing What I Know About Heaven

I know nothing about heaven but what the bible and the Catholic Church tells us but this song gives me a certain peace as the February blahs set in and I find myself missing some of the people I have lost in the last few years.

Knowing What I Know About Heaven

Someone posted this on  Facebook recently and I just found this song by Guy Penrod and Sarah Darling to be very soothing for the soul.

I consider myself a pretty good Catholic and to have a fairly strong faith. That doesn’t mean I never question. There are days when I ask myself how God could take my son at the age of 23 or even my mother at 67.

In 2010, my mother had a fall that lead to my father having a stroke. Mom was a day from coming home from rehab when she had a heart attack. They decided to do emergency surgery. She never came out of a coma and passed away three months before my son who was fighting cancer at that time. I have to say, it was certainly a test of my faith.

Knowing what I know about heaven gives me strength on those days when I feel sorry for myself and find myself missing those who have gone before us.

References and Resources

Getting Through, Not Over

People sometimes ask how you get over losing a child. The reality is you don’t. The pain is something that raises it’s head on occasion. The key is to recognize that it’s OK to hurt. It’s natural and denying the pain just makes things worse for you and the people around you.

Brett in Heaven November 26, 1986 - October 10, 2010

We are all different but I find music works to change my mood when I get into a funk. Songs like What I Know About Heaven are particularly helpful when I’m missing someone. They may cause a little short term pain but I find they lead to relief. Kind of like a deep tissue massage. The pain hurts when they are pressing on it but the relief after is so worth it.

The last couple of months before my son died, I started a memorial web site. Click the photo to see the result. It was almost like therapy. Because the focus was on how great he was and the joy he brought, it helped manage the pain of knowing we were going to lose him.

Sometimes it’s ironic how the world works. When my mother passed away, I was going through some of her things and came across a poem my grandfather had sent my grandmother during the Second World War. It was called A Child of Mine. I’ll tell you the floodgates opened but because of my faith, it gave me peace.

Stop trying to “get over it” and focus on getting through it. Find whatever it is that works for you. It may be soft music and a dark room, a long drive or a workout at the gym. Whatever it is that works for you except booze or drugs, do it.

If you found this blog helpful then I achieved my goal and thank you for taking the time to read. Please feel free to share with anyone you think might benefit.

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for avenues to express myself. I’m thankful for a wonderful, supportive family. I’m thankful for my faith.

What are you thankful for today?

Permanent link to this article: https://barryclermont.com/knowing-what-i-know-about-heaven/

Remembrance Day. Why Do We Still Need To Remember?

Remembrance Day was originally to commemorate the end of the First World War. Then came Hitler and the Second World War. And Korea, and Vietnam, and Afghanistan. We need to remember so that we can be prepared to stand up for our way of life.

Remembrance Day 2016

Photo of paradeI was at services in downtown Barrie today. There were many people there ranging in age from infant to those who appeared to be in their 90’s. For some reason, this year is the first time I noticed such acknowledgement of emergency services in addition to traditional armed forces.

Our local MP Alex Nuttal, Leader of the Ontario Conservative Party Patrick Brown and Mayor of Barrie Jeff Lehman were all there and came to meet with people at the Royal Canadian Legion after the parade. There were many military personnel and veterans there to share in the camaraderie. I’m guessing there were other political representatives and influential people there but these are the ones I know or recognize. I’m so glad to see politics set aside on this day!

Why Do We Need to Remember?

We live in a free and democratic society in North America. That means we can speak reasonably without impunity. Do you have any idea how many people in this world can’t speak their mind for fear of their life?

My grandfathers were both involved in protecting our rights so that I wouldn’t have to. Admittedly, that gives me a pretty strong bias. I was lucky enough to have them survive to tell the stories. Ironically, they didn’t tell many. I remember asking my one grandfather why he didn’t like talking about the war. I thought all old soldiers did. He answered, “I was training boys to die, that’s not something to brag about”. What they did do is teach me to be proud of my country and our way of life, and be ready to defend her.

Sadly, there are many sons and daughters today having to do it again. If we choose to forget what has almost happened a few times now, we could lose our voices and rights before we even realized it was happening.

Lest We Forget

Photo of army officerThis is not just about the atrocities of The War to End All Wars. The problem is that war didn’t end it.

There have been many wars over the years and in most cases, for very similar reasons. To prevent some nut from forcing their ideals onto others. Just look at the actions of Daesh today. If they aren’t stopped, they will eventually take root in the western world.

Could you imagine if we took the position that it’s none of our business? The US almost made that mistake in the Second World War. Sadly, the bombing of Pearl Harbor was a blessing in disguise. If that hadn’t happened, our military might be doing the goose step today.

Be vigilant. Be involved.

Lest we forget.

Make it a great day,

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for my way of life. I’m thankful for those who went before me to protect it. I’m thankful for those who continue to give their lives and limbs to protect our country so my children and grandchildren will be safe and free.

What are you thankful for today?

 

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Multi-Level Marketing (MLM): Why You Need to Love the “Onesie, Twosies”!

“Onesie, Twosies” are critical for the success of your MLM business. This is where the bulk of your numbers will come from.

MLM and the Numbers

funnel

As with any type of sales organization, successful sales strategies are all about the numbers. You need to fill the funnel to get results. How do you do that? By sharing. Tell stories that resonate with people so that they will want to know more about your product or service and maybe even join you in your business.

The more people you get into the funnel, the more opportunity you have to find the “onesies and twosies” that may be interested. Who knows? You might even stumble upon a superstar along the way.

Love the “Onsie, Twosies”!

Many of us get caught up in finding superstars to work with us. Be careful, you could miss the forest for the trees! Your next superstar may be the person you meet that is currently involved in another MLM opportunity that is only producing one or two sales a month. Worse yet, these future stars may already be in your organization and you are ignoring them because they are a “onsie, twosie”.

There are two key reasons not to ignore these people.

  1. Treat them poorly and they will take a lot of your organization out.
  2. This is were the bulk of your sales and recruits come from.

Finding Their Stride

Everyone finds their own stride in MLM or any business. Yes, we all have “systems” that should work for everyone. Eventually. The challenge for many is finding what fits and how to make that work for them. This is a people business and, as challenging as it is, we are people. That means we carry baggage from the past and the feelings that go with that.

Your job is to help them identify what they can make work for them. That may mean you have some things to learn before you can help them. For example, your recruit may have a greater technology expertise than you and want to incorporate those skills into their marketing strategies.

Rather than insisting this is a “belly to belly business”, take the time to understand that you actually both agree and help your recruit to develop a strategy they can be comfortable with that results in meetings with actual people and sales. By the way, you may need to understand that “belly to belly” should translate to “face to face” and that doesn’t necessarily mean in physical proximity. We are in a global community today. Learn to communicate in a way that people understand.

Who knows? Your recruit may actually teach you something, if you let them.

Mentoring quote

Created using Canva and Brainy Quote. Click graphic to learn about free tools.

Why You Need “Onsie, Twosies”.

Very few associates are likely to produce high numbers on a consistent basis. Yes, we all need at least three across and we will find them over time. In the meantime, most will produce next to nothing, many may produce one or two a month. This is just a reality in sales, whether MLM or otherwise.

If you need 25 points in a month, and you are not doing all the sales yourself, it’s most likely that one or two might produce 5-10 and you can only hope that 10-15 others might produce one or two. That means “onsie, twosies” can make or break you!

It’s very tempting to turn your focus to “the producers”. Be careful how you define “producers”! Remember to be inclusive with regard to your “onsie, twosies”. First, one of them may be your developing superstar. Second, you need the numbers to fill the funnel.

Can you demonstrate leadership by letting your recruits teach you what you need in order for you to teach them?

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for my GVO tools. I’m thankful for true leadership. I’m thankful for people willing to “listen” to my rambling.

What are you thankful for today?

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Memories can be painful. Should you feel guilty for sharing?

November 26, 1986 - October 10, 2010Painful memories, we all have them.

We live in a very “social” world today and often don’t think twice about sharing what used to be very private thoughts in a public space. This blog is exactly that. I share for two reasons. One, to release some of my own pain. Two, to let others know they are not alone and it’s OK to grieve. 

Do I feel guilty for sharing? Not in the least, nor should you.

Painful Memories

granddaughter in the forestI don’t know about you, but I try to avoid painful memories. Except, there are some that are actually beautiful and lead to healing. Today is a trigger.

10-10-10 is day I will never forget and the anniversary of that day often compels me to want to release some of the pain associated with Thanksgiving.

Today is the six year anniversary of the death of our son at the age of 23. He would be turning 30 on November 26th of this year. This day always reminds us that we lost a beautiful soul and our granddaughter was left without her father. She was five when he passed away. I can distinctly remember her asking “please don’t close the door” when we went to close the coffin. Now, that’s a painful memory.

father, son and babyI use a trick to get myself through those moments. Those painful memories trigger the many beautiful memories that his 23 years in this world brought us. Our first Christmas together and throwing socks at the kids to wake them up. Learning to ski so I could ski with him. Him holding his younger sister when she was born and being so proud he was a BIG brother now. Traveling to soccer tournaments all over Ontario with him. Becoming a young father and watching him do some of the things with his daughter that we used to do. And the list goes on…

Thanksgiving

red bushIt’s rather ironic that our son left us Thanksgiving weekend in 2010. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for the 23 years God gave us with our son. I’m thankful for a beautiful granddaughter who will be a lasting testament to her father. I’m thankful for my faith that helps me through these times.

Maybe it was God’s design that he took our son on this day. Thanksgiving is about focusing on what we are thankful for. We could wallow in self pity but our son would be very disappointed in us. He said to his mother “Don’t cry too long”.

Just like today, Thanksgiving 2010 was beautiful and sunny. We were surrounded by loving family and friends. I remember that one friend in particular said don’t worry about dinner and she showed up with a complete roast turkey dinner. We fed two families that day and shared some wonderful memories together in celebration of the life just lost. The picture here is one of a bush that friends gave us in memory of him. The red bush beside the lilacs was about two feet high when we planted it. Today, it’s over 15 feet!

Biking with dogAs I sit here writing this blog, my wife is talking with our younger son who headed out a couple of days ago on The Great Trail. Him and his sister’s dog are biking this trail from Tweed, Ontario to Mont Tremblant in Quebec. I wonder if he subconsciously chose this time? He has traveled multiple countries and learned two languages in the last six years since his brother died.

We believe his brother guides and protects him. Many beautiful memories are being made as a result of his passing. For this, we are thankful.

To Share or Not to Share

Memories can be very painful. Is it OK to share when you are hurting? Of course it is! In fairness to others, try to share the positive with the painful. We hurt when we think about our loss but we are so thankful for the 23 years we had and the legacy he left us. He has had a very positive impact on our lives and left us a beautiful granddaughter. I can only hope to leave a legacy like he has.

For now, I hold onto the thought that he plays “The Beautiful Game” whenever he wants and his pain is gone. He watches over us and his daughter and I’m sure he puts a smile on my mother’s face (she left us three months before).

Until we meet again son…Happy Thanksgiving.

Love,

Dad

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for my faith. I’m thankful for my wonderful, supportive wife. I’m thankful for all of my children.

What are you thankful for today?

Permanent link to this article: https://barryclermont.com/painful-memories-feel-guilty-sharing/

Pokémon Go – What’s with this thing?

While visiting Oklahoma City recently, we became aware of Pokémon Go

Pokémon People

Bricktown CanalWalking along the Bricktown Canal, we noticed a lot of people staring at their cell phones. Many were in groups. At first, I thought how sad is that. All these people walking around ignoring each other. Then, I remembered reading about this new phenomenon, Pokémon Go

We overheard a woman near our age saying something about Pokémon Go, so we asked her, “what’s with this craze?”. She proceeded to tell us a little about how the app works and that her and her husband had been out walking more in the preceding couple of days than they had in months. Let’s see, husband and wife working toward a common goal and getting exercise. Communicating to find whatever it is they need to find and working together to protect a gym? Whatever. They were together doing something they could both enjoy and getting fresh air and exercise!

Now that we are back at home, I’m starting to see evidence of this addiction everywhere! For example, I picked my daughter up at the bus terminal in Barrie, Ontario and on the way home I noticed at least a couple hundred people gathered on two corners by the MacLaren Art Centre. I mentioned it to my son who advised me that corner is a hot spot and they weren’t “kids”, there were adults in at least their thirties that night. He also says you can buy lures?! I have a lot to learn.

Pokémon Etiquette

I would have to say that there is quickly becoming a need for Pokémon Go etiquette. People are trespassing to collect whatever it is they collect and the large crowds can be intimidating. Is there somewhere that people can find guidelines? Here are a few:

What are your thoughts on the Pokémon Go craze? Is it a fad? Is it healthy?

Use the comments to let me know what you think!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for beautiful areas to walk, for people to talk to and I’m thankful for time with my wife.

What are you thankful for today?

Permanent link to this article: https://barryclermont.com/pokemon/

Forgiveness is about you, not the offender.

Forgiveness is for your own benefit, not those who offend you. When we hold onto past wrongs against us, they eat away at our happiness and distract us from moving forward. By holding onto the wish for revenge, for them to get what they deserve, we give them power over us. Forgive those who offend you and take away their power over you.

Why Forgiveness?

Photo of person worrying about forgiveness.When you don’t forgive and maybe even seek revenge, you give power to the person who offended you and the people around you suffer your depression or ill temper. Not only is that not fair to your loved ones, you are allowing someone else to steal your happiness.

Have you ever been in pain, physical or emotional, and lashed out against someone who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Take the time to walk around to the other side and see where that person was coming from. See if you might be able to find empathy and let that take you on the path to forgiveness.

Don’t forget what happened or how it made you feel. Sometimes you need to remember the pain in order to help you find forgiveness and peace. This doesn’t mean you condone or agree with their actions. It means you can find forgiveness in order to regain your power.

“When you don’t forgive, it’s like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.” – From Bad Blood, Holding on by Clay Scroggins.

Finding Empathy

Seek forgiveness by finding empathy. Take the time to walk around to the other person’s side. Look to understand why they did what they did. As I said before, it’s not to agree with them or condone their actions but to understand how they may have acted out of their own hurt or sadness. Could it be that they had no real intent to cause you pain or harm? I like to believe most of us don’t intentionally set out to hurt others.

I’ll use an example of when my son died. We noticed that good friends of ours didn’t come to the funeral. We were offended that they wouldn’t take the time in our darkest hour. These aren’t things I dwell on but I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel hurt. I could only assume there must have been something going on in their life that prevented them coming. Imagine my surprise, five years later, when I was having a beer with my friend and he told me they didn’t know my son had passed until after the funeral was over. He was upset that no one had told him. I didn’t tell him either. Now who needed forgiveness?

Moving on

By giving forgiveness to others, we free ourselves to move forward with our lives. Holding onto thoughts of revenge, we let ourselves be stuck in the past.

What will you choose? The choice is yours to make.

Make it a great day,

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for my faith. I’m thankful for Connexus and St. Mary’s. I’m thankful for the love of my life.

What are you thankful for today?

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Labels and words: The words you use matter.

Your words end up being used as labels. Be careful how you mean what you say.

Words

What people mean with their words may be much different than how they are interpreted. An article written by The Eyeopener about Ryerson’s “dropouts” is a great example. When a student makes a decision to change direction, take a different career path, they may need to “drop out” of a class or possibly even need to drop out of an institution because there is a more appropriate program elsewhere. This can result in a label of “dropout” being applied to the student. When you hear that reference, does that create a biased impression of the person?

Labels Wordle

Another example is a personal experience. I was having a discussion about someone with autism. I referred to a person as autistic. Luckily, the person I was speaking with was very attuned to the words and corrected me. There is no such thing as an autistic person. Rather, there are people with autism. We were discussing the effects of the condition on the person, not labeling the person.

Recently, I was talking to a friend about someone recently diagnosed with a mental health issue and referred to them having been put in a “rubber room”. Worse, it was a text chat and no way for them to interpret my body language and understand that I was actually hurting because the person in the mental health facility is very close to me. My friend was quick to respond “Rubber room…Only the really well adjusted can afford to use terminology like that. And you all wonder why we, the injured, don’t ask for help.” So insensitive of me, especially when the person I was chatting with was a close friend and I knew they had experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Mean what you say and remember words matter.

Meaning

I believe that most people have no malice or mean intent with their words. We occasionally slip back to a time in our lives when words had much different connotations than today. Keep in mind that your meaning may not be received the way you intended. We all have different life experiences and apply filters through which we see and hear.

Picture of wood cut with wordsTake the word retarded in the context of a person’s mental development. When someone called you “a retard”, it was meant to be an insult. Eventually, that became the standard interpretation. Over time, “retarded” became developmentally delayed and today, we recognize everyone’s personal learning styles are different and we respect that everyone has different skills to offer.

Today, we would say people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. Although personally, I don’t like to say disability. What may appear disabled can lead to strengths in other areas beyond what “normal” people are capable of. Maybe a term like “people with exceptional abilities” would be a better moniker.

Labels

No labelWords like “Retard, Schizo, Autistic,” quickly become labels applied to individuals. Next time you find yourself labeling a person with a symptom or condition, think about how you would feel if someone identified you by something other than your name.

For example, Refugees. People are coming to Canada to seek refuge and find safe haven. The want to be able to dream of a future where their families can live without the fear of armies who are trying to eliminate a whole demographic. Sure, New Canadians bring some challenges with them. Just like our grand parents and great grand parents who came from places like Europe, Korea and other countries over the years and are now part of the Canadian fabric. These people who “threatened our jobs” in fact created opportunities for ALL Canadians.

What’s that old saying? “Don’t judge lest ye be judged“. Think twice before you start applying labels to others.

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