The Language of Success
One of my all time favorite authors and long time mentor wrote this brilliant piece on how the use of language set us up for failure or success. Most of you will recognize these patterns within your selfs, and as they say, awareness is the first step towards a new intention, or as in this case, being successful.
Are you an aware and responsible participant in creating the context of
your business or relationships, or are you leaving this all-important
aspect of attracting and maintaining purposeful and prosperous
relationships to chance?
Context is that which influences the meaning or interpretation of
actions and events. For example (provided by my friend, Charlie
Badenhop), imagine that you've just played a winning soccer match. In
the exuberant celebration that follows, your teammates dowse you with a
pail of cold water. In comparison, imagine that you step out of your
office dressed in business attire, and a stranger dashes up and pours a
pail of cold water on you. How does your reaction to being dowsed change
with the change in context?
In business, context affects your vision, motivation, ambition, and
follows through. It also affects how others perceive and respond to your
offer. In other words, you are both the dowser and the dowsed.
Some aspects of context are outside of our control. Things happen.
Markets rise and fall. Yet some people thrive even in hard times. These
are the masters of context.
Masters of context concentrate on what they can influence and let go of
the rest. Masters of context pay keen attention to the mood they create
around their product and services and to the beliefs they hold about
themselves and about their customers and network. Masters of context are
rigorous about how they use language to make offers, requests, and
Notice how you participate in the context of your business. Are you
aware of the mood in which your offers live? Are you conscious of the
beliefs you hold? What does the way you speak and write tell your staff,
partners, clients and prospects?
For now, just notice without making an effort to change anything. Make
notes about what you notice. The simple shift into an open, spacious
curiosity within a clearing will produce some interesting results.
Masters of context are rigorous about how they use language to make
offers, requests, and promises. That's because masters of context know
that language not only describes the world but also creates it.
Requests, offers, and promises are intricately woven throughout the
fabric of your business. The manner in which you offer your products or
services, your capacity to make effective requests, and your ability to
follow through on your promises are affected by the context of your
business and, in turn, help to create that context.
Consider, for example, how the offer made by a massage therapist relates
to context, and how both in turn relate to the results of that offer. If
the offer is made by way of a loud sign in a rundown commercial strip
and supported by advertisements that use suggestive language and
imagery, prospective customers will interpret the offer of massage in a
sexual way. Customers will have an expectation about services and prices
related to the context.
Alternatively, an advertisement in the newsletter of a health club or
gym emphasizing the value of massage in maintaining peak condition and
recovering from injury will be interpreted in terms of health and
fitness. Again, customers will expect the range of services and prices
appropriate to this kind of massage in this cultural context.
A third possibility exists, and that is that the advertisement might
leave the prospective customer uncertain as to how to interpret the
offer. Customers may be left to wonder what kind of massage is offered
and to what ends. Because of the uncertainty it creates in the mind of
the customer, this kind of offer is unlikely to result in much business.
What's more, the vagueness may contribute to a context of doubt or
This doubt or uncertainty undermines your ability to make an attractive
offer. Whether from shyness or fear of being misunderstood, many
business owners are tentative and incomplete in the offers they make.
Not only do these incomplete offers fail to create a context for
success, they may be contributing to an atmosphere of hesitance,
uncertainty, or self-doubt which may further be interpreted as lack of
skill or commitment. In short, if your offers lack confidence, your
customers may conclude that you lack competence.
Likewise, in making requests or promises, we may fail to be complete.
Incomplete requests are either not noticed as requests or leave the
listener without a way to respond. Incomplete promises leave the
listener uncertain about what it is you are promising to do and
therefore they may remain open to competing offers and promises from
How are you being about your business offers? Is the nature and extent
of your offer clear? By what standards do you evaluate this? (Ask some
friends and clients for their feedback on your offers.)
Of whom do you typically make requests? Are their individuals or classes
of people of whom you always or never make requests?
Are you open to hearing "No" when you make a request?
How are you about responding to requests? Are you able to say "No" or to
make a counter-offer?
Is there a connection between your ability to say "No" and your comfort
with hearing "No"?
How is your offer related to the requests and promises you make in
Written by Pat Grove