David Cooperrider often says, “Words Create Worlds,” and I believe they do. From studying appreciative inquiry and practicing it in my own life, I know that the words I choose matter.
That’s why I am so surprised that so many people say things like, “Well, you know, it’s because the millennials… <insert negative comment here>. I have heard everything from they are lazy, entitled, rude, selfish, have a poor work ethic, etc. Regardless of the date ranges you prefer, you are talking about more than 80 million people. I’m not sure how it became acceptable to talk despairingly about 80 million people, but somehow, I seem to hear and read about people doing this all the time. For anyone that is either participating in this behavior or accepting it in others, I have one question – What do you hope to achieve?
Can you think of anytime throughout your career or life that you talked badly about someone and their behavior improved as a result of it? What would we say if we heard our teachers were talking to children in classrooms this way? Would we believe the teachers were encouraging the children to become better? What do we want for this generation in the work place? Do we want them to take our companies on to bigger and better places? Do we want them to continue innovating and finding cures to diseases? Do we want them to eradicate poverty and help with global warming? If so, why aren’t we encouraging them to be their best?
Can you imagine if we changed our language highlighting their strengths? What if the story became that they are better equipped to create technology for affordable solar energy and digesters? What if we talked about their caring attitudes and their desire to have meaning and purpose? What if we welcomed what they had to offer and how it complimented the other generations? Do you think they’d live up to the new story?
If ‘Words Create Worlds’, I challenge you to find the words that create the world you want to live in.