Everyone Loves A Bunny Hug

Lingo is the vocabulary of a particular subject or group of people.  Dialect is a form of a language that is specific to an identifiable region or social group.  The difference between lingo and dialect is subtle, but make no mistake, the difference is there.

Why is that important to know?  It’s important because unless you speak the lingo or dialect of your target market, you not only fail to connect with your target market, you run the risk of alienating that market as well as secondary and tertiary markets.

I remember the first time I heard someone refer to a sweater as a jumper.  In my world, a jumper was a dress with no collar and no sleeves.  Imagine how much trouble could arise if the buyer thinks sweater upon hearing the word jumper while the seller thinks dress, and all the while both parties believing they know what the other is saying.

I also remember the first time I referred to a hoodie as a bunny hug.  I had grown up with friends (and their parents) referring to a hooded sweatshirt with a pocket in front as a bunny hug.

University of Saskatchewan Bookstore Bunny Hug

IMAGE: University of Saskatchewan Bookstore Website

Our grandparents grew up referring to a popular ballroom dance style from their childhood as a bunny hug.  And neither we nor our grandparents had ever heard the term hoodie to refer to a hooded sweatshirt.

It may seem silly to worry about lingo and dialect, but in business, it’s important to make proper connections with your target markets and customers.  If you aren’t speaking the same language, how can you provide the service or product your customer or client expects from you?

To illustrate this point, I’m sharing this fantastic video from Insightrix entitled, “SaskatcheWHAT?

For most of you, listening to Canadian prairie lingo may have been confusing were it not for the subtitles running with the video.  For some of you, you may have been able to pick up meaning from context in parts of the video.  However, unless you were familiar with Canadian prairie lingo, chances are you were lost.

If you don’t believe me, just replay the video and this time turn away from your monitor (or tablet or screen).  Listen closely.  Are you able to figure out what any of those who are speaking Canadian prairie lingo are saying?

The value in understanding your customer or client is that it enables you to provide your customer or client with excellent service, and to help you deliver what you promise to deliver. What’s more, if you understand your customer or client, you are in a position to anticipate their needs which not only validates their feelings but makes them feel valued by you and your business.

To be successful in business, not only is it important to know who your customer or client is, it’s important to understand your customer or client.  If you fail to understand your customer or client, that misunderstanding will haunt you and your business for a long, long time.

Why?

Because people talk, and word-of-mouth is one of the most effective ways for word of your business — positive and negative — to spread quickly.

Don’t assume you know what your customer or client is saying or hearing.  Ask questions along the way so you can better understand who they are, what they want, and what matters to them.  At that point, everyone will come away from interactions feeling confident and relaxed.

Remember:  Communication is a two-way street.  Make sure you aren’t going the wrong way on a one-way street to misunderstanding.

Elyse Bruce

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