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You say either and I say either

You say neither and I say neither

Either, either, neither, neither

Let’s call the whole thing off

You like potato and I like potahto

You like tomato and I like tomahto

Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto

Let’s call the whole thing off.

But, oh, if we call the whole thing off.

Then we must part

And, oh, if we ever part, then that might break my heart.

Perhaps you are humming and or tapping your toe as you recognize this Ella Fitzgerald tune “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”, and simultaneously scratching your head asking, “what does this have to do with my business”?


Businesses have their own lingo, their own nomenclature, their own internal vocabulary. When I was working at Starbucks the company introduced the phrases venti, barista partner, and trained their customers and employees on their unique vocabulary. You can always tell when a new customer walks in the store as they try to determine what is a small, medium or large? This strategy has successfully spread as the company has grown and now those are commonplace words to many people.

Nowadays, companies may not have the time or budget to introduce and try to retrain their customers and employees on their unique language.

A client recently asked us to evaluate and revise the recruiting processes for their company. The company has a great brand and product, is an engaging place to work, and is growing, but does not receive as many applications/candidates as they want or need. Some of that is a result of the current supply/demand of qualified applicants and some is related to their job titling. They have creative titles for many of their positions and those are not “common “in the marketplace.

Candidates will not take the time to figure out your creative vocabulary, they will simply hit NEXT. As a result, you may be losing a strong candidate because they cannot determine what the job is, and where it fits in the hierarchy of typical organizational roles. A great example is calling a manager a coach. Is their sole responsibility to provide feedback and train? Do they have financial accountability? Is the position responsible for productivity and sales? If a candidate has to figure this out, they will probably heave a heavy sigh of frustration and “call the whole thing off”.

When it comes to recruitment advertising, share creative information about the company, role and benefits, but remember the goal is to get as many candidates as possible. You can have an internal title and an external translation and explain the difference during the interview and onboarding process.

Another client asked me to review, modify and develop onboarding for the company. I participated in onboarding and quickly became frustrated. Every daily duty or example was explained using a football analogy. OK, I will fess up…. I don’t understand football. As a matter of fact, it took a while for me to realize that it did not include three strikes and you were out! If the company had substituted music for football in their examples, I would have been fine, but instead on day one I was confused. Just imagine, you spent time and money recruiting me and on my first day, I am saying “let’s call the whole thing off” ?

That is a fumble! The only football term that I know!

Look at your onboarding, training, policies, and processes with a critical eye toward language, communication and ultimately comprehension. Anything that gets in the way of your employees quickly understanding your message is a productivity drain and impacts growth. When you establish titles or training, use words that don’t leave me scratching my head trying to determine what you really mean. If you can’t look at this process from an outsider’s perspective, find someone that can.

Remember, you know your business…the candidate or new employee does not! Who are you trying to attract, train and engage so that they do not “Call the Whole Thing Off”!