It may be a cliche; but words mean things. Effective communication, and even deeper, our choice of words,is integral to performing our job function not only for safety and to elicit desired results, but may be the difference-maker in your professional success.Before determining how to most effectively communicate with your clients, you first must understand your client on a level they may not even know themselves. By understanding what motivates your client(s), his/her fears, hopes, triggers, stressors, aspirations, habits,tendencies and even common thought processes, you can tailor your communication in a manner that increases the opportunity for longer-term success.
When communicating, whether with current clients, potential clients,team members or colleagues it is important to understand the implication of the words we choose. Here are a two common words/phrases that are commonly used particularly with fitness and nutrition that may warrant reconsideration of their use:
Cheat: The word 'cheat' inherently insinuates punishment or negative consequence. When we cheat on our taxes, we go to jail. When we cheat on a test, we get detention. Eating a cheat meal, for some, associates a sense of guilt and results in using exercise as punishment (thinking they will undo what they ate) or further poor food choices ("I guess I'll just start my diet again on Monday"). In this context, replacing 'cheat meal' with something like 'special occasion meal' or in lieu of "I'm cheating if I eat this brownie," try "I'm going to enjoy this brownie;" may increase the chance of more positive actions to follow.
Control: No one likes to be controlled. To the human mind it can feel constricting and limiting. Phrases like, "I just need to focus on my portion control" or "If I could just control my late-night snacking," foster a mindset of scarcity. Reworking the conversation to "I need to include more greens/protein/grains/healthy options, etc. in my meals" or "I feel satisfied longer when I eat more protein at dinner" shifts the focus to what a person can have; creating a mindset of abundance and likely longer success.
Words have meaning; but further, have implications far beyond what is simply spoken and heard. Words have the potential to be the catalyst of action or the cause for inaction. As coaches, trainers and leaders, if we practice self-awareness in our choice of words, we have the power to influence more positive outcomes for those we serve.