Words Matter: From Transactional to Transformative Language

Too easily, we fall into using the wrong words – and it’s costing us business.

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between Fireflylightning and the lightning bug.” –Mark Twain

Example: we fall back on transactional language, even when we believe the value we bring is transformative.

In our culture and in business, it’s common to deal in transactions on a daily basis. We’re surrounded by transactional language like:

  • Buying and selling.
  • Quotes and bids.
  • Rates and deliverables.
  • Products.
  • Customers.
  • Buyers.

For some businesses it’s the accurate terminology. Yet, I’m convinced that we’re so used to this transactional, vendor-supplier language that often it’s applied too broadly – to the disadvantage of all involved.

So many businesses offer much more than a transaction, but their language hasn’t evolved to indicate that. So there’s some “discord” between how they describe themselves and who they actually are as a business.

If the words I use are transactional, should I be surprised to be treated as the next vendor in line?

At TPG, we help owners, leaders, and executives Transform, Perform, and Grow their businesses, people, and corporations! We care deeply about their culture, vision, goals, and passions, and we’re in it with them.

We don’t view what we do as transactional, because with each entity, we build a greater connection and relationship between us than a transaction involves. It’s a transformative relationship.

Therefore, the words we use to do business need to reflect that transformative nature. We want our words and language to truthfully reflect the kind of relationship we’re in.

I’ve found we’re more accurate and in sync with who we are as we’ve trained ourselves to use a vocabulary more like this:

  • Instead of selling a job or tasks, we begin a project, relationship, venture or initiative together.
  • Instead of producing deliverables, we identify (together) the results or outcomes we seek through a mutually-developed Scope of Work.
  • Instead of quoting a fee, we define the investments appropriate to pursue or achieve desired results, outcomes, and impact.

This isn’t just word manipulation for marketing purposes. It’s about changing how people understand who we are and what we do by choosing the right words.

Because words matter.

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About Paul Kirpes, TPG Companies

For over 35 years, Paul J. Kirpes, Founder and President of TPG Companies, has transformed businesses, corporations, communities, and ventures in the private and public sectors throughout the U.S. as well as internationally. Paul empowers companies, their owners, and leaders to Transform, Perform and Grow!
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1 Response to Words Matter: From Transactional to Transformative Language

  1. Pingback: 4 Themes at the Heart of “Transform, Perform, and Grow” | Transform. Perform. Grow.

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