Verb versus Noun

Did you say it’s Ben? Then you are in good company – 90% name Ben!

Why is that so? We feel that people who are committed to something strongly, are more likely to act accordingly. And we feel that “being something” shows a stronger commitment than “doing something”.

You might have heard this e.g.

  • in therapy, when patients have to commit to their problem in the first place (e.g. “I am an alcoholic” rather than “I drink too much”, or “I am a smoker” rather than “I smoke too much”.
  • in sports, when coaches strengthen the team belonging with “you are a tiger” not “you play for the tiger team”

If you apply this difference between verbs and nouns it can make a huge difference! See these examples:

  • Address your users or customers with more understanding. Don’t use nouns when it is too early in the process to ask for commitment, you are likely to scare them off. But at the right time, use nouns to introduce and strengthen belonging.
  • Use nouns when talking to your team to strengthen the sense of belonging.
  • Use verbs when providing negative feedback, so the person will take it less personally.
  • Use expressions such as “I am convinced we should…” rather than “I think we should…”. That strengthens your arguments.

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