I’m in the middle of reading Micah Solomon’s and Leonardo Inghilleri’s book Exceptional Service Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization.    For a former hospitality industry trainer like me, it’s been a re-hash of old ideas so far, with one exception: the authors recommend creating a lexicon of preferred language and phrasing for your organization.

Of course part of customer service training is always to examine appropriate and inappropriate uses of certain words and phrasing.  We teach customer service reps to say things like, “let me help you with that” and not to say things like, “I’m sorry, but that’s policy.”  And yet it never occurred to me to actually create, in writing, an organization-specific lexicon.  A language manual of sorts, that would lay out conscious phrasing choices such as “my pleasure” for an upscale hotel company, instead of “OK” or “Yes sir.”

It made me start thinking about other uses for such a language manual.  What about creating a teamwork lexicon?  Such a manual would specify word and phrase choices such as:

  • “We” instead of “I”
  • “We made a mistake” instead of “you made a mistake”
  • “What do you think?”
  • “What other ways could we look at this?”
  • “How do you see it?”
  • “Let’s consider some different options”
  • “I’m frustrated about ___.  Do you have time to talk about it?”

So on and so forth.  The possibilities are endless.   And the lexicon could be laid out in a team charter or other such guiding document, and could be part of new employe orientation.  The act of creating it would be a team building activity in and of itself.

What language would you put in a teamwork lexicon?


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