Thursday, February 9, 2017

"Just How PC Does Our Sales Language Need To Be?"

Long before the term PC (politically correct) was in common usage, we used power words as part of our sales vocabulary in an attempt to soften the impact of someone being sold or making a buying decision. That was across industries, and it worked I suppose, but the consumer still recognized the original terms for what they were and often corrected us by inserting the common word or term for the more polite or softer one.

Words that were considered improper - although they were accepted ones and not profane or anything like that - were (and still are in many circles) terms like contract, sales contract, or contract for purchase. Essentially anytime the word contract was mentioned, rather than a softer term like agreement or paperwork, notions of legalize, lawyers, and binding commitments were supposed to spring up. Call it what you will, it's still a contract, and it's still binding. We can call it a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but that doesn't change what it is. We know that, and the consumer knows that.

Other words or terms like standard features ("included"), optional features ("decorator," "designer," or "custom"), building lot ("homesite"), initial deposit, initial investment, or initial equity ("down payment" or "binder"), monthly investment for monthly payments, association contribution for fees, and many more instances of trying to make the obvious seem so much more polite and gentle. The only thing is, no one was or is being fooled by this terminology. 

And it's not just real estate or big-ticket industrial items either. It seems that we may be getting to the same place in discussing aging in place. For starters, many people are taking issue with the term "aging." They are seeking something less direct such as living (living in place) or thriving (thriving in place). The fact is that aging is going on, so we really don't have to call it anything different. We may not like to think about ourselves as aging or to be reminded of it, but it is great that we are able to age and go on living. In fact, Proverbs 16:31 says "Gray hair is like a crown of honor; it is earned by living a good life." (NCV)

All of us age - like it or not. We are just a little bit older right now than we were when we started reading this post. 

Other terms that we dress up or discourage using are ones like disabled, challenged, restricted, or limitations when it comes to mobility or sensory concerns. Of course the word handicapped is one that we have shied away from using, although people with mobility issues get handicapped parking permits for their vehicles and park in a designated handicapped parking space.

Often, when we are visiting the homes of our clients and meeting with them, they will address their concerns and issues by using very direct words or terms to describe what they are facing. These so-called "trigger" terms are thought to focus on their issues or call attention to difficulties they might be facing in life, but isn't that why we have been called in to help them? We may be far more sensitive to their issues than they are. 

Without being insensitive to issues that people are facing, we don't have to be so soft in discussing their concerns that is sounds awkward or we are trying to avoid discussing their concerns and issues.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.