Reposted with permission from Personal Branding Blog
Language is everything.
It sends subtle messages about your attitude, your intelligence, your background and even your motivations. Yet it isn't something that we always think about changing, so it's often sub-optimal.
Our personal brands often speak the wrong language.
This really struck me when speaking with a client of mine, Elizabeth. She is looking to transition from management into leadership and while writing her resume, I was coaching her on talking about her experiences as a mentor.
She weaved a wonderful story about helping out a woman who was unhappy and underpaid at work. She helped her define her values and her goals and then the two of them broke those down into tangible steps. Since that time, the woman has taken classes outside of the office, been promoted and become a lot happier. She gives Elizabeth credit for jump-starting this major shift in her life.
Wonderful story. I was thrilled to hear that she had made such a difference in the woman’s life. Wrong language.
So, the two of us worked on what the right language for relaying that story in an interview would look like:
Do you see how the change in language completely shifted the vantage point of the story?
In the first one, Elizabeth was a good person doing another person a favor. In very effective dinner-table language.
In the second one, she was an effective leader, who identified and coaxed out potential, yielding real value for her company. The language of leadership.
I want you to take a minute and think of an aspect of your personal brand that may be targeting the wrong audience. It's okay if you aren’t sure or are having trouble thinking of one. Try to think of things that you think are good stories, but are not particularly impressive.
Got one? Good.
Now we’re going to answer three questions, all about your audience:
Keep asking that last question as many times as needed until you come up with a really powerful answer.
Then ask yourself this question: Is my personal brand written in the language of their why?
For Elizabeth, she was addressing her mentorship in a personal language, dinner-table language, while her evaluator was addressing her in a business language.
By shifting how she told her story — her language — to the language of her audience, her accomplishments became stronger and more pertinent. Her brand became more attractive. She became more hire-able simply by changing her language.
How are you going to become more effective by changing your language?