Leading a team is like building a house; like any construction job, you have to use your skills, experience, and toolbox.

The toolbox of a leader needs to include a strong set of persuasion skills.

I believe a critical element of leadership is the ability to persuade people to come with you. And to paraphrase the famous quote from Animal Farm: “All words are equal, but some words are more equal than others.”

There are certain power words that help to build connection and trust. You might be surprised to find that one of the most powerful words doesn’t seem … well, all that powerful – until you understand its importance.

This speaks to just how incredibly subtle and efficient the language of true leadership is. Strong leaders use simple language, because simple language conveys clearly what you want your listener to do.

Studies show one deceptively simple word is one of the most powerful, and yet one of the most effective team-building tools you can use.

However – and it’s crucial for you to understand this – just as in using the right construction tool for the job at hand – you must use this power word in contexts that make sense to your listeners and the situation at hand.

If you just start slapping this power word on every situation for no apparent reason, you will quickly be revealed as insincere and a buffoon. And you’ll quickly see just how unhelpful the wrong tool can be.

So, now that you’ve been warned, let’s pull the curtain back…

“Your Name Here”

No, that’s not a typo above. The most powerful word you can use to connect with people is their name.

Invoking the self is a powerful motivator that advertisers have been using for years. As it turns out, as much as people like hearing “you”, they like hearing their own name more.

According to research examining brain activation, we light up when we see our own names in print. Why?


Our names make up a huge part of our identity. Think about it – what’s the first thing you usually tell people about yourself?

Right. Your name.

So it’s not surprising that we light up when things get personal.

“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” ~ Dale Carnegie

Clients and customers are not only impressed when you remember their name, they also feel valued and valuable to your business. At NRI Relocation we never forget employee relocation is – at its heart – a personal experience, especially for relocating employees. We make the extra effort to be able to put a name to a face or, in one story, a voice.

In the office one busy afternoon, one of our relocation consultants happened to pick up the main phone (yes, we do that here because we all pitch in when things get busy). One of our corporate relocation customers was on the other end  and it just happened to be her customer. This is how the conversation went:

NRI Customer: “I’m calling to get my relocation number.”

NRI Consultant: “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.  Your relocation number?”

NRI Customer: “Yes. I’ve moved several times and the other relocation company always gave me a number that I had to use whenever I called or emailed.”

NRI Consultant:  Is this John?

NRI Customer: “How did you know??”

Thinking about this conversation still makes me smile. Because stories like these remind me why NRI Relocation does relocation the way we do.

We like knowing our customers by name. We like making it personal.

We like knowing our customers so well that we can tell who’s calling, just from the sound of their voice. And we like making that little extra bit of effort to make sure our customers and clients know they’re more to us than a number.

Relocating employees have so much to deal with already, why make them feel like a number?

We all know what that feels like: you call a company because you need help. First you get the push-button maze (and sometimes even if you don’t) where you’re asked to give your full 37-digit account number, the last four digits of your social, your mother’s maiden name, your last 3 known addresses, your dog’s favorite food, and your secret password.

Then you get put on perma-hold, usually with music you’d never, ever listen to voluntarily. Finally a live person answers, you explain what you need, and then you’re transferred to someone else – where you get asked the same mind-numbing questions you already answered.

Now consider the alternative…

A real person answers your call. They know who you are, and can actually help you!

How unusual and refreshing is that!?  According to our customers: very much so.

But the real “secret sauce” to using someone’s name effectively is that you have to really enjoy getting personal. And, at NRI Relocation, we do. We like knowing our customers by name. We like making someone’s life easier.

Maybe taking the time to learn someone’s name is a small thing. But isn’t it the small things that help us get through the day?