Tag Archives: language

Paper vs People

This challenge continues of figuring out what really constitutes your ‘work’.  It’s a tricky little thing.  Our brains are often the culprit that gets us in a tangle.

Let’s see how this works.  When we go to lunch with someone and then say: “Thanks for a great lunch, now I need to get back to work” we are telling ourselves that the ‘people’ part isn’t work.

When our ‘leads group’ meeting is running long and we think: ‘Wow, I wish they’d get done – I have to get to work” we are telling ourselves that the ‘people’ part isn’t work.

When we are helping a colleague or employee solve a problem, we are glad when it’s done so we can ‘get back to work’.

Notice a pattern here?  When we say we have to get back to work, we are implying that we aren’t currently working, and that being in conversations, schmoozing and connecting with people isn’t part of our work .

peopleThe truth is that the ‘people work’ really is the work.  Without the people work, you have no clients or customers.  The ‘people work’ generates the other work.  Without the clients, whatever your work is, you wouldn’t have it.

There is an easy fix to this.  Change your language.  Here’s an effective way to do that.  Avoid using the word “work” without a descriptive adjective.   So instead of getting back to the ‘work’, you will be getting back to the ‘office work’ or the ‘paper work’.  It’s all work.  Be specific about which work you are referring to.  Don’t let your brain, and your subconscious keep perpetuating the idea that the ‘people time’ isn’t ‘work time’.

This can be a challenging transition.  When I went from being a ‘bookkeeper’ to a ‘controller’ in what seems like the last century (oh wait, it was the last century!)…anyway, I had a very challenging time realizing that talking to people was now a part of my job.  I had a staff to support, I had a board of directors to work with, I had sales people to interact with.  Initially I kept feeling that if I hadn’t moved all the papers (you remember paper?) from one side of my desk to the other by the end of the day, I wasn’t really getting any work done.  Silly me.  The conversations and the interactions were crucial.

Now my work is mostly people, with very little paper.  The people work includes both marketing, presenting and coaching.  I need to balance it all.  And I need to think of ALL of it as work.

Take a moment to decide what you want to call each of the work things you do:

Paper work, people work, busy work, administrivia work, money work, promoting work…just remember it’s ALL work!  Changing the language will change the perspective, and bring you both peace and balance.