Have you ever had a stimulating exchange that ends in a fishtail because the other person stumbles over a word, blocking further thought? There are indeed words that trigger such strong emotions in people that they lose all critical sense, overwhelmed as they are by emotion.

My go-to example? The word “profit”. If you want to antagonize the executives of a non-profit organization, tell them that their organization must “maximize profits”. The blood of these people, whose essence of life is to correct what brutal capitalism creates as conditions for the poorest, will run cold.

But when you think about it, why does this idea seem so scary. Yet, isn’t maximizing the effectiveness of an NPO what its leaders should be trying to do?

An NPO is an organization set up to solve a situation. Take for example Tel-Jeunes, a non-judgmental listening service for children. This organization needs all the revenue it can get to cover the costs of its services, while rationalizing its expenses as much as possible. Thus, to be able to help as many people as possible, Tel-Jeunes should maximize its profits by minimizing any cost that does not add value and by increasing and diversifying its sources of revenue. This margin will allow us to hire more agents, offer competitive salaries and/or invest in anything that adds value.

Not so bad for a “scary” expression!

The term “business plan” also causes anxiety among future entrepreneurs, who panic at the idea of forecasting revenues and expenses over three years in order to convince a financial institution to provide them with a loan… Yet this exercise is more than useful: it is necessary! Would we agree to go and meet people without knowing how to get there? Obviously not! So why go into business if you don’t know how to get there? The business plan allows you to identify a maximum of information in order to get to your destination at a lower cost, more quickly, and, at the same time, maintain your mental health.

Often, those words that block us from getting to our destination hurt our ego, our deepest “self”. Here’s the deal. The ego acts in us as a protective mechanism, an armor that holds our psychic person in one piece; but if we over-invest in it, this ego, it becomes a barrior to our development, preventing us from truly reaching out to one another. I suffered from my family situation, I experienced too much heartache, I was betrayed by a friend… all these reasons may require us to put on an armor of cynicism or selfishness, to stop suffering. On the other hand, with time, we must know how to do without it, become vulnerable again and accept to change, to be changed by our relationships with others.

And you, do you have any of these words that block your ideas? Write them down in the comments, I’m curious to know them!