Landing the aeroplane

Categories: Winnthinks

Imagine the scene: Your aeroplane is three hours into a three-and-a-quarter hour flight when your pilot comes on the intercom and says:

“Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seatbelts, I’m going to try and land this aeroplane shortly.”

What?! You’re going to try and land the aeroplane? Precisely how confident should I be feeling at this point…?

In coaching we pay as much attention to our clients’ language choices as we do to the information they’re sharing with us. It is a goldmine of insights, particularly when the client (usually subconsciously) gives him or herself ‘wiggle room’ by using phrases like

  • “I will try to”
  • “I really should…”
  • “I ought to…”
  • “I hope to…”

Ever listened to yourself saying: “I really should get up an hour earlier tomorrow and get that report written…” Bet you didn’t. But when you said “tomorrow morning I’m going to get up an hour earlier and get that report written” – well, that reflects an entirely different level of intention.

Our language matters. It matters when we’re making a deal with ourselves (to get fit, to read more books, to change a habit, to change our job) because if you listen to your language, you’ll discover just how committed you really are. Our language matters to our customers and colleagues too. Finely tuned, emotionally intelligent beings that we are we will (consciously or otherwise) pick up on the language of ‘try to’ as opposed to ‘will do’. “OK, Mr Customer, I’ll try and get that sorted out for you today…” Meh…

So which comes first – the language or the commitment level? I believe they’re interdependent. When I speak in terms of ‘Will Do’ and ‘Want To’ I’m feeding my brain a healthy message about my capability and my desire. If I sound powerful, I will be powerful. If I sound floppy, I will be floppy.

So if ever I’m a passenger on your customer service aeroplane, tell me you’re going to land it for me, won’t you?