Word Power: Being Partners

I recently taught the Writing Tune-Up for Peak Performance at Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), one of my long-standing clients. When attendees sent me the answers to prework questions, I was struck by the words they used to describe their readers:

Vendor partners
IT partners
Industry partners
Grantees and other community partners

The word partners came up repeatedly in the prework answers. Individuals don’t write to just vendors–they write to vendor partners. They don’t email people in IT. They email their IT partners. They send grants to community partners. They share data with industry partners.

The word partner conveys mutual respect, collaboration, communication, common interests, and interdependence. To have partners, you must be a partner.

REI has been on Fortune magazine’s list of the 100 best companies to work for every year since Fortune began the list in 1998. This year it celebrated 70 years in business. Last month it announced 2007 sales of $1.3 billion, up 13.5 percent from 2006.

Based on the company’s success, my guess is that REI employees not only use the word partner–they live it.

As someone who believes in the power of language, I recommend following REI’s example. Why not try adding the word partner to the key relationships in your business? Then see whether it changes your attitude and your behavior toward any groups or individuals:

employee partners
customer partners
client partners
executive partners
legislative partners
citizen partners
student partners
sales partners
consultant partners
designer partners

Maybe if we use the word partners, with all its positive feelings of support and connection, we will become true partners. And through being partners, perhaps we will experience longevity and success like REI’s.

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