French Lick*

*A small town in southern Indiana. What did you think I meant?

The power of words…

Grab attention, communicate an idea, provoke, engage, energize… If you hunt large sales, you know that the turn of a phrase or the capturing of a concept hinge on powerful words. I just read Frank Luntz’ article “Words That Pack Power” in the November 3rd issue of BusinessWeek. He picks out five words from the executive lexicon that should be used regularly in the current business world…

* Consequences – Use it and the listener thinks that good or bad, it is about them
* Impact – Not ‘effort’ or even ‘solutions’- these come out as intentions and people are done with good intentions
* Reliability – Luntz claims that “Value is now the sum of price plus convenience plus reliability.”
* Mission – not ‘mission statement’ which can be hollow or trite, but the intense accomplishment focus
* Commitment – the idea of making it personal to the credibility of the speaker

I have to tell you, when I read this list I was left ambivalent. I think that word-selection is vitally important. I also think word-omission is just as important. I’m just not sure that these are good enough, especially the last three. Those three are dog-eared and tired shadows of their former selves. Also, Frank did not provide a list of words that we should leave out of the executive lexicon, a list I would like to have seen. (Fortunately, David Meerman Scott wrote a whole e-book about such words and phrases: The Gobbledygook Manifesto).

So, what other words do you think make the list of ‘Power Words’ for American business? What are the words we should get rid of?