Thought Leadership Blog

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Must You Call Me "Kiddo"?!?

Some find it endearing, while many find it insulting.

The terms "kiddo," "dear" and "hun" are controversial, incurring a wide range of audience reactions.  Know your audience. 

Inherent in our culture and language is the bad habit of hearing some "cute" catch phrase, adopting it and then repeating it without ever really thinking about it.  Business relationship building clearly suffers from this damaging practice.

Calling someone "kiddo" is often interpreted as disrespecting and demeaning, a borderline attack on anyone over the age of 5.  The target of this term often feels defensive, conjuring such objections as -- "If you’re going to choose to disrespect the number of years I’ve endured, please don’t disrespect the challenges I’ve overcome, the good deeds I’ve contributed, the studies, accomplishments, dedicated parenting, charitable efforts,"... yadda…yadda... I rant to prove the point.

The point is... language sets the tone for workplace, customer service, negotiation, leadership and all business relationship building, so as always, choose your words and your tone carefully.  Condescending words such as "kiddo" and "hun" have no respectable and respectful place in business relationships.  Even children aspiring to maturity don’t like this label, so why would we assume a positive response from any adult?

With 25 years of validity and correlation studies including regression analysis and t-testing, the HRS Assessment Center (HRSAC) has established norms and preferred indicators for relationship building behaviors. I can assert with complete certainty that behaviors pointing to demonstrated respect are overwhelmingly the most underused toolset in our culture – and yet the most important to relationship building on the whole. 

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Jessica Ollenburg - Sunday, July 06, 2008