O P I N I O N
Leading with language
While weak language can dilute your message, assertive language fosters attentiveness, boosts credibility, and increases authority.
R ecently, I attended a virtual proposal review meeting run by a marketer I had mentored the year before. She facilitated the meeting competently, and the proposal was impressive. It was clear that her management and expertise had added value to the process. Yet, when it came time to review the action-item list, I noticed a palpable change in her voice, language, and confidence level.
Three technical narratives assigned to a single author were missing. The proposal was due in a week, and two deadlines had come and gone unanswered. At this point, the team risked compliance and client focus. “Sorry, but I don’t have these narratives yet,” she said, her cursor hovering and her voice wavering. The responsible author chimed in, “Yeah, I’ve been swamped. I haven’t gotten to them yet.” “No problem, I understand,” she replied before casually continuing down the list. Assertiveness can be a challenge for AEC marketing professionals for several reasons.
At many firms, marketers are still viewed as administrative personnel with little authority. The value of marketing might be unclear or questioned by industry veterans who remember a time when winning business looked very different. Even at firms where marketing skills are prized, marketing staff are likely up against gender, experience, and/or age biases. After all, it can be difficult for a young woman with a handful of years in the industry to firmly request an assignment from an older man who has been with the firm for two decades and holds the daunting title of principal. Then, there’s the precarious relationship between the proposal manager and the technical lead of the
See MERCEDEZ THOMPSON, page 4
THE ZWEIG LETTER JULY 19, 2021, ISSUE 1400
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