Recently I facilitated a workshop on business introductions. Randomly I threw out there the three word challenge (#the3wordchallenge), so why not share it with more people?! A part of the workshop was looking at our strengths and how we could determine what they are. This is especially helpful when we lack self-confidence or are over-run by self-doubt.
Ask for feedback
One way of being confident in what our strengths are is to reach out to your clients, your peers, your suppliers, (or even simply your friends and family), whomever you deal with and want feedback from, and ask them what they think of you. Now some of us may find this a bit scary, but you may find some amazing results when you do this exercise. I do strongly suggest doing it, and repeating it once or twice a year!
Variations of this exercise
I have undertaken variations of this exercise. Through a coaching course last year we went around the room after knowing each other for a couple of days. We placed post it notes on the back of the chairs of each person, using one word to describe them. The chosen words were quite enlightening. For this exercise I’ve chosen three words because one is not enough!
In the same certified coaching course, another alternative was to actually call five people with a questionnaire with 3-5 questions. Ask them things like, what is the thing that most inspires you about me? The questions are quite deep, but make sure people have free rein to reply.
Positive things about you – self love exercise
Shaz Cini (intuitive coach) also recently mentioned at an event an exercise she gets people to do. She asks people to list 10 positive things about themselves. Many struggle with this as we tend to be self-deprecating. I strongly suggest you do this as well, but for this exercise we are seeking feedback from others. This has a multitude of benefits.
Benefits of completing #the3wordchallenge
Benefit number one we get to build our self-confidence
When we see some of the words people use to describe us it can be quite uplifting. Although theoretically you could get a troll join in, all the examples I’ve seen are positive.
Benefit number two, we get feedback from real people
We gain feedback on the messages we are putting out there versus what we may think we’re putting out there. For instance, although not the type of word we’re after, we may think we’re helpful, but people might think that we’re meddling or vice versa. So it is useful to check our intentions are being received as intended.
Benefit number three – the feedback is invaluable
We may think the messages we’re putting out are clear but it may come back from what people are hearing that the messages are not what we actually want to tell the world. This knowledge allows us to consider making changes. Do we need to do more or less of something, to be more or less visible for X?
For instance, a person I’m working with is giving so much to everybody. So much so, a few of us used the word selfless when describing her. The problem is, although selfless can be a good trait, there’s also a big negative that goes with it. For a number of us, we need to set boundaries and stick to them. Therefore for her, selfless is a word ideally she would want to see drop out of the three words. That doesn’t mean she needs to be mean or do anything unkind, it just means she needs to think of herself at least some of the time!
What to ask for the #the3wordchallenge?
In this exercise I strongly suggest leaving it pretty open, saying something along the lines of “Please comment with the three words which come to mind which you think best describes me or my business”. Optionally open up with “I’ve been challenged to complete this task #the3wordchallenge, and would love your help.”
You don’t need to explain it any further. By explaining it or giving examples you can guide them to providing answers you want to hear, and that’s not what we want to do. We want them to think of the three words that pop into their minds straight away when they think about you, without filter, without question.
You can ask for the words via social posts, emails or even in person.
Once you have your words from #the3wordchallenge
When you’ve gathered all your words, copy the text and place it into a document. Cut out all the descriptive words or bits and pieces people chucked in extra, to just leave the actual words. What I would also do, is if people have used two words, for example problem solver, I would put a dash in problem-solver just so the system you then use will know the words are connected.
Find and use a word cloud generator
Next we can download or use a word cloud generator (plenty of free options). If you look on your phone there are plenty on iTunes or Google Play. Alternatively check on your computer for what’s available through the web. Copy your words into the word cloud software and create your word cloud. Some are really cool. One lady created a word cloud in the shape of a musical note (she runs a music studio).
Using your word cloud and words generated
This word cloud can then be used on your marketing materials, website, on your social media, wherever it is you want to share those messages.
Remember the other part of what we are gathering this information for is feedback. Things we want to change. Like the selfless example, maybe it’s one we don’t want on our list. Maybe we have nobody mentioning how knowledgeable we are, so we could be more visible about our level of expertise. Think about the words you want people to recognise you for, and how you could portray them further.
Take up #the3wordchallenge
I would love to see you take up the three word challenge. Please use the hashtag: #the3wordchallenge so we can track you. If you are doing on Facebook on your personal page, I do suggest making it a publicly visible post so other people can see it and you can get other clients or whatever commenting, even if they aren’t actually friends with you.
Good luck with this challenge and I hope it gives you some interesting responses which help you to build your self-confidence, make changes to the way you do things, and provides another way to identify your strengths. Use the relevant words to help describe you more effectively when talking about yourself and your business.
About the author Jane Tweedy
Jane Tweedy is the Founder and Lead Trainer of FAQ Business Training. She speaks regularly at small business training workshops and networking events in Western Sydney. Jane also speaks at conferences and will travel to speak with the right arrangements. Find out more about Jane here.