The language we use affects how we think and how we act. The word “resource” is dehumanizing. We become numbers on a spreadsheet instead of the talented, engaged people that we are at work. Here’s Jenni with more.
Think back to when you were little. Did you ever want to be a resource when you grew up? By definition, the term resource means a supply or stock of materials, money, staff that we can use to get things done. Not too long ago, I heard a conversation between two people who were deciding on hiring the point five resource backfill. What? What does that even mean? The word resource is dehumanizing. We become numbers on a spreadsheet instead of the talented, engaged people that we are at work.
I’ve gotten pushback on this. I hear from people all the time, “Well, that’s the language our accountants use. We’re just tailoring our language to suit them.” To which I say finance people are also really smart people. They can use the word “people” instead of “resources” as well.
The language we use affects how we think and how we act. And it may seem subtle. You may think you know the difference and that people know what you mean. And over time, what happens is the connections in our brain change. We begin to think of people as resources that we can move around at will, instead of the living, breathing, talented people that we actually have working in our organizations. When we think about people, we can make decisions with empathy. When we think about resources, our brain changes to make it easier for us to add or delete or move people at will.
So the next time you catch yourself saying the word resource, say “I mean our talented people” instead.
I’m Jenni Jepson with your Leadership Nudge. Let us know how it goes.