Samsung Battery or Normal Battery? How Words Matter

While I was shopping for a replacement cell phone battery at a neighbourhood joint, the shop keeper politely asked me, “You want the Samsung battery or normal battery?”

Earlier in the day I had spent time researching ways to spot a counterfeit battery. I viewed videos and read about subtle differences in the print, label and material of a fake. I scanned images upon images on Google to encase in my mind what a fake, low quality, risky counterfeit looks like so that I would be able to reject it if ever a dishonest seller offers it to me.

“You want the Samsung battery or normal battery?”

Normal battery. We both know what normal refers to, but the mere sound of normal made it seem, well, normal. Counterfeit, fake? Bah! It is all normal. Suddenly, my extensive research did not matter so much anymore. Admit it or not, the mere difference in wording subconsciously lessened my defences.

This happens to us all the time. The best marketers carefully pick words to suit a diligently framed context to influence thoughts, feelings and actions of buyers. Good leaders elicit actions by wordsmith-ing. Gifted speakers and conversationalists may do it without realising it. We at the receiving end sometimes accept these influences without ever realising it too, as the subconscious process of words, thoughts, feelings and actions influence one another.

Interconnection of thoughts, feelings, words and actionsLet us do an experiment. Imagine that a person is saying the statement below to you. Be aware of what you are feeling as you receive the statement.

“The cost of this phone is only $300. How would you like to buy it?”

Now rewind the scenario and imagine that the same person is instead saying the following statement to you. Again, be aware of what you feel.

“The total investment of this phone is only $300. How would like to own it?”

Which statement do you feel better about? The only difference is in the words. The person could take it further:

“The total investment to enjoying long-lasting, instant connection with your loved ones is only $300. You may be pleasantly surprised by the benefits of owning it. If it is O.K. with you, I will help you acquire this experience. All you have to do is to pen this paperwork.”

What if the person had said this:

“The cost of this phone is only $300. You may be surprised by the benefits of buying it. If it is O.K. with you, I will get you started with the initial payments. All you have to do is to sign this contract.”

Vocabulary makes a difference. “Cost”, “payment”, “buying”, “sign contract” are words with connotations that understandably put us on alert mode, heighten our defences, and perhaps remind us of unpleasant experience in the past. Compare the feelings that they elicit to alternatives such as “investment”, “owning”, “acquiring experience” and “pen the paperwork”.

Beyond our feelings and actions, words affect even our abilities. There is an exercise that is always demonstrated during the NLP Practitioner* training at The Pathlight Centre. It illustrates how one word – that is common in everyday conversation – affects your bodily reactions, and how easily you can empower yourself by replacing the word with a more resourceful one.

Consider what adults sometimes say to children: “You can’t do this”, whatever this is. I once met a 7-year old who had a habit of expressing “I can’t….” Her sibling had a habit of asserting to her: “You can’t…”

These are innocent little voices. At the same time, they also reflect the earnest beliefs of these young ones and the self-talk they probably engage in. What if the voice internalizes and repeats until adulthood? Whenever the child said “I can’t…,” I replied with several alternative statements:

“And what if you can…? How can you…?”
“In what ways can you…?”
“When you figure out how… then you can …”

I never did meet the child again, and only hope that she replaces her habitual expression to a more resourceful one.

I am glad the shopkeeper was honest to present me a Samsung battery and a normal on.e. Without knowing it, she gave me an invitation – an invitation to look at a battery as a battery; inferior in make to the other one, yes, but a battery nonetheless. With that, she gave me a choice – a choice to think of it as “fake” or “normal”. I extend the invitation and choice in whatever ways they apply to you.


* NLP or Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a human development technology pertaining to, as its name implies, the interaction between mental processes (“neuro”) and language structures (“linguistic”), and both their natural and deliberate construction (“programming”). NLP has applications across broad areas in sales, therapy, health, education, business, leadership and more – basically, in any field involving human beings. You may learn more about our NLP Practitioner and Master NLP Practitioner trainings here and here.

Why Your Goals Fail and Six Steps to Ensuring They Last

Have you ever watched a plant grow? Even if you have not, you may imagine that in the growth of a seedling, the roots are the first to develop. Only when the young plant has firmly taken root would the shoot start to sprout. The roots play a very important role in plant development. They sustain the structure of the plant while providing it with nutrients from the soil.

It is the same with our goals. Goals are plants that we nurture whether for personal or professional reasons. Unfortunately, most goals turned out poorly or simply failed because in the first place, they were growing on shabby roots. If you repeatedly fail to achieve your goals, you could have set them on weak roots.

The “roots” refer to the initial process of setting a goal. This process is so important that when done right, not only will you have built a firm foundation from which to move, your goal will become as sure a destination to you as the sun is to the shoots that grow towards it.

plant

To know clearly what you want and move in that direction – now, wouldn’t that be useful? That clarity has a name. It is termed “well-formedness”. Well-formed goals last and push you to achieve them. Here are the six steps to creating a well-formed goal that lasts:

1. State your goal in the positive and present tense

Always state your goal positively. State it in the positive and the mind will focus on the positive. State it in the negative and not only is the attention set otherwise, there is also no focus on what you want. Here is a test: do not think of green pigs. Never, ever, think of green pigs getting bombarded by a catapulted angry bird. What did you just think of?

So, instead of “I don’t want to increase my debt”, go with “I spend wisely”.

Also state your goal in the present tense: it signifies that you have already achieved it rather than a spot in the future that you have to get to. Instead of “I will be a power presenter”, use “I am a power presenter”.

2. Ensure that the goal is self-initiated and self-maintained

Have you ever met someone whose goal is to create world peace? It really makes you wonder how this person would achieve it true to his word. He may need to start by acquiring control over the entire world!

Let us bring it closer to home. What about “I want my boss to like me”? Or “I want my other half to love me more”? Or “I want my child to score straight A’s”? Do we really have control over those? These goals are dependent on the behaviours of others which are not within our control.

Goals are achievable only when they are within your control, and the only factor you can truly control is your own choices and actions. If the goal is within your control, then it can be self-maintained.

In a similar vein, always have a goal that is self-initiated, never one that is initiated by external factors like: “I want to be a doctor because that is what my parents would want for me”. This is your goal. Not your parents’, society’s, nor anyone else’s. Make it self-initiated and self-maintained.

Mke sure your goal is self-maintained.

Make sure your goal is self-maintained.

3. Know when, where, and who you are with having achieved the goal

These define the context for your goal. Imagine having achieved your goal. When and where is that, and who are you with? Suppose if you want to acquire more analytical thinking abilities. It helps to define the context in which you would apply that ability. Is it while you are advising your clients as a technology consultant? Is it while you are researching financial statements of companies in your role as an investor?

Defining a context makes your goal specific and clear to the mind. It also prevents generalization to areas where the goal may not be appropriate. For example, you would not want to be all analytical about scientific accuracy while watching a sci-fi movie!

4. Experience having achieved the goal

Now that you have a positive, self-initiated, self-maintained, and specific goal, how would you know when you have achieved it? Well, indulge in the experience now! Visualize in your mind that you have attained your goal. Utilize your senses. See, feel, and hear – even taste and smell if you like – what you would experience having achieved your goal.

5. Check that the goal you want is ecological

The word “ecological” refers to an interdependence and balance of living organisms. In our context, you want to ensure that the changes brought on by your goal will not cause any internal conflicts. Ask yourself these:

  • What are the benefits of having this goal?
  • What are the disadvantages of having this goal?
  • What are the benefits of not having this goal?
  • What are the disadvantages of not having this goal?

If you discover conflicts answering these questions, you may want to resolve them before proceeding with your goal. Otherwise, revise your goal.

6. Ask, “Is it worthwhile?”

Finally, be honest to yourself and ask: “Is it worthwhile?”

You may need to spend considerable time and energy in your goal. Only you can tell why the goal is important to you, and whether it is worth your investment. At this final step, you want to know that the goal you have set is aligned with what you truly want.


The concept of a well-formed outcome is a tool in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), a human development technology that can only truly be appreciated when you experience it yourself. In addition to learning other personal and interpersonal development tools, get the opportunity to set and revise your goal/outcome in our NLP Practitioner course and be certified as an NLP Practitioner in the process.