Create winners with your words

It was about 7:30 Monday night in mid-January. We were in our company apartment in downtown Kapuskasing, Ontario. I asked Craig, one of my partners, “Do we have any corn chips?”

He predictably responded, “I don’t think so.”

“I guess I will have to drive clear over to the shopping center if I want some.”
Craig said, “No, you can just walk across the town center loop. Just two blocks from here there’s a little store where you can get some chips.”

I put on my jacket and boots and took a quick brisk below-0° walk across the city square to the little sundries store. I was surprised when I walked in and saw they sell candy out of big jars by the piece like the old general stores of two generations ago. I haven’t seen anything like that for decades. I found the chips I wanted and walked over to the checkout counter. The lady just in front of me was buying several lottery tickets. It looked to me like that was all she had bundled up to walk to the store to purchase – lottery tickets. She got her tickets, scratched them off immediately, and handed one back to the cashier. The next thing I knew, I heard this silly little jingle, and an 8 x 11 screen just above the cash register lit up. With the music playing in the background, the screen flashed, “Happy Dance.”

I watched the lady with her winning lottery ticket and the clerk who sold it to her. There was no one else in the little shop. All I can say is that no one was doing a “happy dance.” There was sort of a pathetic glumness about the whole scene. It was a $6 win. She took her winnings and bought more tickets.

Then two days later in my studies of hidden psychological influences, I discovered some interesting things about the lottery. The slightest changes in the wording of ads can create a predictable bump in sales.

“You could win today”
“Your friend may be winning right now”
“Over # wins last week”
“Be a winner”

If a small change in the wording of these ads can cause people to be more or less likely to buy a lottery ticket, what impact do you think your comments can make on your coworkers, friends, spouses, on the lives of everyone around you? Don’t think for a moment that what you say doesn’t matter. You have influence, impact with your words with the people you work with every day. You have more influence than you realize or may want to admit. Think before you speak – maybe you will help those you love do a happy dance.