When I was a new operations manager I would regularly meet with my sales counterparts to review activity at our shared accounts. At the time, the organization valued positive language, sometimes to the extreme.
One day, a crusty account executive set the stage with me early by asking, “We’re gonna talk about what’s really going on with these accounts, right? Problems. Not freaking challenges.” It seemed like someone was getting tired of the company’s kumbaya attitude, and didn’t want things glossed over. No more sugar coating, and no kicking the can down the road. Truthfully, it was kind of refreshing.
Attitude and language are linked. And while positive language has a far greater chance of leading to positive outcomes, clear definitions also help.
Always know your audience, what you want to accomplish, and what help, if any, you want from those you’re speaking with.
Think of it this way. A problem is something to be solved, while a challenge is something to be met.
Poor customer service survey results is a problem.
Improving customer survey results is a challenge.
Frequently missing committed deadlines is a problem.
Making a commitment to meet deadlines is a challenge.
How you label the situation can recruit or repel others, so use your language wisely.