Episode 308

Aug 7, 2020

Our language impacts people's perceptions and feelings about themselves. Michael and Allissa discuss why it's important to be mindful of the words we use.

Listen to "E308: Being Mindful of the Words We Use" on Spreaker.
Image for E308: Being Mindful of the Words We Use


Weekly Roundup

Discussion Topic

  • We examine the words we choose in and out of the massage room that could be placing unintended judgement.

Quick Tips

  • To submit a scenario to Ruth Werner’s new podcast with ABMP, email ihaveaclientwho@abmp.com.
  • MailerLite - Recieve a $20 credit if you sign up. (affiliate link) 



Sponsor message This episode is sponsored by Acuity, our software of choice. Acuity is the scheduling assistant that makes it easy for both traditional businesses and virtual businesses to keep their calendar full. Acuity is the business suite that takes hours of work off your plate so you can focus on the fun of your massage business. From the moment a client books with you, Acuity is there to send booking confirmations with your own brand and messaging, deliver text reminders, let clients reschedule, let them pay online so your days run smoother and faster as you get busier. You never have to say, what time works for you? again. Clients can quickly review your real-time availability and book their own appointments. You can get a special 45-day free offer when you sign up today at massagebusinessblueprint.com/acuity.

Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we help you attract more clients, make more money, and improve your quality of life. I'm Michael Reynolds.

Allissa Haines I'm Allissa Haines.

MR We're your hosts. Welcome. We're happy to have you with us today.

AH We are. We're delighted.

MR We're delighted.

AH Michael, what are you reading or watching this week?

MR [Laughing]

AH I'm jumping in, dude. I'm jumping in. What are you reading or watching?

MR Yeah. I was just waiting to see what you would jump in with. What am I reading or watching? So I am thrilled to tell you about what I'm watching. So I have started -- my wife and I have started Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which I know you love.

AH Oh, my God.

MR And I think a couple years ago, you posted on Facebook about how great it was and all the reasons it was great; it's very smart and witty, etc. And I was like, okay. Cool. So I put it on my list a couple years ago. Never got around to it. We finished whatever we were finishing, and then we're like, okay, what show do you want to watch next for our series? And so I looked it up, and I was like, oh, yeah. Allissa recommended this. And I looked at the reviews. It gets amazing reviews. I'm like, cool.

AH Because you didn't trust me? You had to look at reviews as well?

MR I did not say I didn't trust you. It was just additional evidence that it was good. Yours was the most weighty. The reviews just backed it up. So we started watching it, and oh, my gosh. It is amazing.

AH Isn't it great?

MR It is so good. And it's like 20, 25 minutes long per episode, so it's not a huge commitment, so.

AH Yeah, it's an easy watch.

MR Yeah. So if anybody out there, Allissa was right. Listen to Allissa. You heard it to her first. But I just wanted -- if anyone's out there looking for a light-hearted, fun show to watch, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is absolutely hilarious.

AH It really is. And the 13-year-old in my home actually asked if she could watch it. And I was like, hmm. We're a little bit restrictive. Our kids are a little less -- they tend to be less emotionally mature than their peers. They're very young for their ages. And so we are a little mindful about what we let them watch because they're both very sensitive as well. And she asked the other day if she could watch that, and I was like, yeah, I think so, because anything that we would have to explain, I'm comfortable -- and I'm comfortable explaining anything to her anyway. I am comfortable with the topics that come up, and I think it could be really fun. I was like, yes. But let's watch it together.

MR Yeah.

AH So I'm very excited about watching it again.

MR Yeah. It's so good. So thank you for the recommendation, which I did trust. I appreciate it.

AH Okay. I'm not -- you had to get outside verification. But you know.

MR I didn't have to. I was just curious.

AH But maybe after you watch -- yeah. Maybe after you watch a few more episodes, you can mansplain them to me as well. That'll be fun.

MR Where did that come from? Where did that come from?

AH [Laughing] I was just kidding. I'm kidding.

MR That came out of nowhere. [Laughing]

AH You've never mansplained anything to me. I'm kidding. Yeah. So what I'm doing this week, what I am reading actually pertains to our last week's episode, I think, where I used some terminology. I used the phrase "crack the whip" because we -- I think it might have been a couple episodes back, but we were talking about motivation, and I need someone to "crack the whip" at me to get me motivated and have deadlines and enforce these things and accountability. And it was pointed out to me that that's not a great phrase to use -- because in my mind, it was about cracking the whip at a horse to make them go faster. But also, I did not realize -- and it makes sense now that that actually has some connotations related to slavery. And why would I want to use a term that's abuse to animals anyway? It's a bad cliché, and I shouldn't have used it. And now I know that.

But that actually got me thinking about a whole bunch of other phrases that I know of and have purposely tried to remove from my speech and from my communication. And I am having some problem trying to open the page, and it's playing a video, and I don't know how to make it stop.

MR [Laughing] Real talk, people. Real talk.

AH Sorry. I hope you guys didn't hear that. It was a video for an aquarium. So sorry.

MR I didn't hear a thing.

AH Sorry. As soon as I flipped over to the page, this ad popped up. Anyhow, I was -- and I will link to it in the show notes. It's a Huffington Post article just about 12 common words and phrases with racist origins and connotations. I'm not going to go through them all, but there was a couple that surprised me. We knew -- I think we'd even had a conversation about the phrase "grandfather," "grandfather clause," "grandfathered in." And that's got a racially charged history to post-civil war times where they were requiring literacy tests for voting and stuff, and all kinds of criteria for voting. And it was -- these rules were specifically created to not allow free black people to vote. So we actually, I think, already knew this, and we use the term legacy. Instead of saying "grandfather pricing" or whatever, we use "legacy pricing" or "legacy membership" or whatever.

So there was a handful that I knew about, and there were some that I didn't. And we talked about this a little bit in some office hours the other day. I've tried to remove the phrasing "rule of thumb" from my vocabulary because it actually harkens back to when a rule, the rule of thumb -- which was that a man could beat his wife with a stick, but the stick must not be larger than the circumference of his thumb.

MR Holy cow. I haven't heard of that.

AH Uh-huh. Uh-huh. And so I tried to replace that with "general rule." And it's not hard. Once you start recognizing these, it's not hard. And there's a whole lot of words and stuff that are not in this particular article, but a few that -- one that really struck me is "spirit animal." We make a lot of jokes like, oh, this is my spirit animal. It's not really appropriate. That's some cultural appropriation with indigenous and native people that's not cool. Ditto for using the word "tribe," which I was certainly guilty of early on in our Blueprint community where I referred to us as a tribe. That's not okay. That's not good phrasing. We can say "community," and it's not that hard to switch it out.

MR That's interesting because there's a whole software platform called Tribe, which we actually looked at when we were talking about moving to a new platform.

AH And there's a reason. That was one of the reasons that I was like, no. I'm not cool with that. So also, I'm glad it ended up not having the features that you liked because I didn't want to have to have that fight with you. But it worked out really well.

MR Well, I don't know about a fight, I just wasn't aware of it at the time.

AH Yeah, no. I don't think I was either. But it would have gotten brought up, and we would've had a wonderful conversation, so. And I probably would've mansplained it to you, so there you go.

MR [Laughing]

AH Yeah. And there's a handful of terms -- and this is actually going to be the topic of our podcast in a minute. We're all going to dive into some massage-related stuff. But I certainly encourage people to look at that article and consider some things. There's going to be a few in there that really surprise you. There will be a few that don't. And I think it is incumbent on all of us to embrace the change in our terminology because while it might not be something important to you, it could be important to the people you communicate with, and you want to be compassionate and kind and, in general, be a better human being. So I want to officially say I'm sorry I used crappy terminology, and I am working to improve that. And that is what I am reading this week.

MR Nice. I think we're all working on that. Thanks for sharing. All right. Well, before we move on, let's show some love to our sponsor, Jojoba!

AH Yeah.

Sponsor message As you know, I recommend The Original Jojoba Company for use in your massage practice. And since it never goes rancid, it'll last forever. It's safe for all clients. And with all the successive handwashing and hand sanitizer, you can throw a little bit on your hands at all different times, in your office and your home, to keep your skin soft. And I want to note that you, my friends, get a 20% discount off the price of the product when you shop through our link, massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba. Also, I have been preaching about their Hand & Cuticle Salve, which I found out last week they're actually not shipping right now because it's too warm, and it would get melty.

But they have some other amazing products now you need to check out. They have just a simple salve for hands. That's a firmer mixture, so it doesn't get melty in shipping. And they have a salve that's got balsam in it. It is so nice. And they have a balsam lip balm. Holy wow, it's really great. So yeah. I love that they're expanding their product line a little bit. I love the balsam stuff. It just feels like -- especially heading into autumn, I just -- it feels -- it smells earthy, and it feels great on my cuticles. I'm kind of starting to get back to massage, and my cuticles and my hands are really dry and weird, and I love the simple salve and the balsam salve. So 20% off, people, at massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba.

MR All right. Let's talk about more words.

AH Let's talk about more words. So yeah. I got down this train of thinking about these phrases that we use, and I was thinking about the terms we use in the massage room and describing what we feel and how we feel and how clients interpret these words. And I had this experience last night with a client who is having so much pain. And she was like, but I went to the chiropractor, and he said my neck muscles weren't tight. So she felt like her experience of pain wasn't validated. Because he said they're not tight, and he didn't provide any context, she felt like she was crazy for having this soreness and tenderness and what she perceived as tightness in her neck just to have the chiro just invalidate that.

And it was really -- I could tell it was really upsetting to her. And we shouldn't be using words "tight," and we shouldn't be using "loose" or "tight." These are words that can carry so much judgment and so much weight that they can hurt our communications with our clients, and they can intentionally -- or I mean, unintentionally impact how our clients feel about the state of their own bodies. And she told me that. And I said, listen, this is all relative. What feels tight on you would be loosey-goosy on someone else, and maybe vice versa. You could feel it's tight in relation to how these muscles feel to you normally, and that's okay. I was like, just because it didn't seem tight to the chiropractor, who maybe worked on 20 other super jacked people that day, doesn't mean that it's not tight to you. So let's get in there, and let's see what we can do.

But it came up a few times over the course of the treatment where she was like, is the massage loosening them up? And I finally said, that's not really a thing. I can tell you that your tissue feels a little warmer. It feels a little softer. I'm going to have you turn your head in a few minutes and see how it feels to you. But how it feels to me is completely irrelevant. What I care about is how you feel before the treatment, in the treatment, and after the treatment. And that's going to tell us if massage is working for you. And this happens all the time, right? The way we name our treatments puts this subconscious, unconscious judgment into them.

"Deep tissue massage," what does that even mean? Because I used to do -- I'm air quoting -- "deep tissue massage," and for some people, that meant getting my elbow four inches deep into their glutes. And for some people, they felt that deep work was barely the weight of my hand on an erector muscle. It doesn't mean anything in general use because it is a relative term. And ditto that for "light." What is "light"? It's different for everyone. For some people, it is just the softest, most barely-touching-skin application of lotion. And for some, it is my bodyweight through the heel of my palm on their bicep. These terms don't mean anything outside of context and relativity within a single treatment.

And unfortunately, the use of these terms to name our treatments, or the -- I'm not going to go on this tangent, but this is another episode, the concept that relaxation massage is light, as opposed to deep -- which again, stupid terms. But the context that -- the idea that relaxation massage is a lighter-weight touch, as opposed to a combination that is suitable for that individual client on your table, is absolutely ridiculous and incorrect. But unfortunately, the use of these terms, which are entirely subjective, get placed as judgment. I've been to a massage therapist who was working on, I don't know, something sensitive in my neck or something, and I was like, oh, that's a little too much pressure. And they said to me, oh, you're a lightweight; you don't like a lot of pressure, which was total crap because I do like a lot of pressure. She was just being really pokey about it, and it wasn't good. And again, the way I even say this is a judgment. I was about to say, I can tolerate a lot of pressure, as if it matters that I can or can't, as if it matters, or I'm some kind of badass because I can take deep pressure to my neck muscles.

So this is how ingrained it is, and how I'm still working on my own stuff. And to say, some people -- I have heard massage therapists say -- and this happened a lot in massage school and my training, but I've certainly experienced it many times on the table. I don't like deeper work to my legs. I don't like a lot of pressure on my legs. And I had a therapist say I was very sensitive. And that came off in a really negative way. I didn't go back to that therapist. So these are words that we use that we need to be mindful of. And even to say things like, would you like more or less pressure here? can be better than saying, do you tend to like deep massage or light massage? And again, whole other episode, do you like deep massage or relaxation massage? as if to imply that deep work cannot be relaxation, and to imply that relaxation has to be light. Whatever.

So these are words that we need to be extra careful of. So I would challenge you, and I would encourage you to consider the words you use when you describe massage and make sure that they're not causing some kind of judgment within you -- perhaps judging a client who can't take more pressure, or judging a client who only likes more pressure, and vice versa -- and see if that's causing any kind of judgment in your mind and potentially being received as judgment on the part of your client. Just examine your words and your own thoughts on occasion. I'm not saying that you definitely do this. But I know that I have, and I do, and I'm sure I will again. I will say the wrong thing, and it will inadvertently cause a client to feel judged in one way or another. So you got that.

I also wanted to mention how we talk about clients, even in closed forums, and how we talk about requests from clients. And specifically, I'm talking about an experience most of us have had where we have had somebody call and ask if we do undraped massage, or ask straight out if we do happy endings, or ask if we do erotic massage or sensual massage. And I struggle with conversations, even in private forums for just massage therapists, about this because I see a lot of snap judgment. And I see a lot of overreaction -- what I think is overreaction -- and people kind of reverting to "I told him I'm not a prostitute," or "I said, they don't ask their physical therapist that," and referring to people as perverts or creeps or creepers. And I just want to clarify that the people who call us and ask for these things straight up are the least perverted or creeper-y. These are the people who are very clearly articulating that they're looking for a certain kind of service. And if you're not a sex worker, you don't provide that kind of service. And there's no need to be offended by that question. It is simply a question.

It is no -- I don't feel like it's any different than a client calling and asking if I do knee rehab stuff because I don't. Now, I know knee rehab stuff is legal, versus sex work, which is not -- whole other conversation. But I do think that we need to look internally about why those questions offend us so deeply. Is it -- do you have an insecurity complex? Do you not feel confident that your 900 hours of training or whatever qualifies you to do the work you're doing? Are you taking these requests too seriously and too personally? Because you don't need to yell at them, and you don't need to call them names, and you don't need to give them the phone number for the police station as if that's a legitimate referral. You just need to say, no, I don't provide that service. I'm sorry. And I don't have a good referral for you. Thank you for calling. And hang up the phone, and if it creeps you out, block the number. This doesn't have to be a thing.

And I will wrap that up by saying if you think that you're better than a sex worker, then you need to work on your own judgment. If you think that you are better than any other profession, you need to work on yourself because it's ridiculous. The reality is massage was and is still often a cover for sex work, and we will get these questions on occasion. To get them on the phone, those questions on the phone, is the best possible scenario because it's way better than having someone come into your office and actually be creepy. And again, I used that term as a way of judgment, which is not appropriate, but I'm working on myself here, people. But if you think that you're better than anyone else, than a profession legal or otherwise, then you need to step back and consider why you think that and maybe progress a little bit. I'm going to get a lot of kickback on that. I expect the bad reviews. You can send them to Michael at massagebusinessblueprint.com. So that's for the both of --

MR [Laughing] Thanks for that.

AH You're welcome. I eventually will move -- I will eventually -- I'm not personally or academically prepared for a conversation about ableist language, but I do want to point out that this is something we all do. And as I learn how to become a better advocate for the disabled child in my house, I am working on my own ableist language. And what I mean by that is things where someone does something ridiculous, and you're like, that's crazy, or that's stupid, or they're a moron or idiot. All of these things are reflective of a really discriminatory and ableist language. And I -- there's a lot more about this, but I have picked a few words, specifically, to have as replacements in my mind. So when I'm tempted to say things like, that's stupid, I am trying to flip my vocabulary and be like, that's silly. That's goofy. That's not practical. That's not applicable. That is not a helpful approach to this situation.

The ultimate goal is to not be making any negative remarks that aren't necessary. And when you have to give feedback to something, or you have to participate in a conversation where you are looking to shut something down or provide feedback that could be perceived as negative, to do it in a way that is clear and kind and helpful, the ultimate goal here is to not be a jerk and make negative comments about anything. But we're human. So that's it. We all need to work on our language a little bit. I'm done.

MR Awesome. Could you tell everyone on Facebook about this too, like everyone on Facebook? They all need to hear it.

AH [Laughing] We do all need to hear it. And I am one of the people that needs to hear it. When we hear people in our community be like, oh, my God. The massage community is so polarized, and people are so emotional, I am number one that person who's super polarized and obnoxious in every conversation. I'm working on this. And that's part of why we took the Massage Business Blueprint premium community off of Facebook so that I wouldn't have to be on Facebook that much more because it's bad for my blood pressure and also my public reputation. I'm just waiting to get kicked out of the Massachusetts group that I'm part of because I just -- I have zero tolerance. But -- I'm a monster. There it is. So I'm working on this too, people.

MR [Laughing] "I'm a monster!"

AH I'm a monster.

MR I'm picturing the blue sky with the hook on his hand.

AH Oh, my gosh. Yes, that is me.

MR [Laughing] From Arrested Development, yeah.

AH Oh, my gosh. Did you see that he -- that guy who's -- Will Arnett? Will Arnett.

MR Yeah.

AH So he, you know in the Arrested Development when he's a magician, and he always has that music when he comes on like, do-do-do-do!

MR Yeah, "The Final Countdown" by Europe. Thank you.

AH Uh-huh. So he is on an episode of -- I don't know if it was Sesame Street, or if it was that new Muppets Now show that we just -- I think it was an old Sesame Street. But they played that music when he came on. It was hilarious.

MR So good. So good.

AH It was so good. Anyhow, I saw that the other day in my house.

MR Nice.

AH Okay. Who's our next sponsor? Let's be done with this topic.

MR Let's be done with this. All right. Let's talk a little bit about our friends at ABMP.

AH Yay.

Sponsor message This episode is proudly sponsored by ABMP, and we're proud to be a partner. All massage therapists and bodyworkers can access free ABMP resources and information on the coronavirus and the massage profession at abmp.com/covid19. They have sample release forms, PPE guides, and a very special issue of Massage & Bodywork magazine all about this particular health crisis.

I will note as well, side bar, that their Massage & Bodywork magazine -- the award-winning Massage & Bodywork magazine -- is available online for everyone to read for free. And it includes Michael and I's column, which this year was all about money. It was a money-money-2020 year. So if you're looking to get your financial education improved a little bit, you can read all of our columns there.

MR And I will note that the column is also applicable to year 2021 and '22, which might be an easier time to apply them.

AH Yeah. Yeah. COVID kind of smacked us in the butt on that one.

Sponsor message Also, ABMP has a phenomenal podcast, and they have all kinds of episodes that are interviews. I'm going off script here. Sorry, ABMP. But also, they have this amazing new series with Ruth Werner called "I Have a Client Who…" And you can email Ruth your questions. I think it's ihaveaclientwho@abmp.com, but I'll put this in the show notes. And you can say like, literally, I have a client who has blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and I'm not sure what to do about that, or how to adapt my massage, or what I need to be cautious of. And Ruth does a podcast episode on it. It's awesome. So far, she's covered -- she covered an episode about essential tremor. I think the first episode was about stroke. It's a phenomenal series, and I am so grateful to ABMP for hosting that, and for Ruth to putting the effort into it because it is fantastic and applicable and everything I want in a massage podcast. So you can check those out at abmp.com/podcasts as well.

AH That's enough about ABMP. Sorry, went on a little long.

MR [Laughing] Well, we're big fans, so it's okay. It's allowed. All right. Quick tip time. We got anything today?

AH I don't.

MR Cool. I have something. I have talked about this tool before. I'm going to talk a little bit about MailerLite. I have recommended it before as an email marketing too, but I want to come back to it again today for a couple reasons. One is we've had a few of our Community members ask about email marketing because they're kind of starting to slowly ramp their practice back up again, kind of reopening methodically and slowly, and they want to start building an email list. And some people have said, hey, I've never used email marketing before. I've just been sending individual emails, but I would like to start doing mass emails to my client list for promotions or communication or education or whatever. And they've been asking about platforms. So it's one reason I wanted to bring it up again.

And the other reason is I just found a new feature -- or not new feature, but a new feature to me that I really didn't know was there and really enjoyed -- which is MailerLite -- first of all, it makes it really easy to build emails. They just have these building blocks. It's kind of like putting Legos together. You've got some Legos, and you just kind of put them together in different combinations. And you drag and drop these content blocks over, and it makes it super easy to build emails. And if you drag over a video block, you can drop in a YouTube URL, and it will automatically create a little preview animated GIF of the video to make it look really cool, and it links out to it. And it embeds it right in the email, so it looks really slick. So when you send the email out, you've got this nice little animated GIF preview of the video embedded right there.

So it's a really cool feature I really enjoyed. We use it for Massage Business Blueprint. And I also use it personally for my financial advisory practice as well, and that's how I discovered it. So I like MailerLite so much because I feel like where so many other email marketing platforms are trying to be too much, MailerLite is like, "hey, you want to send emails? We can send emails." That's what they do. They have other features, but they don't really get in the way. Mailchimp's good as well, but I've already felt Mailchimp was kind of clumsy. It's got these features that are always in my face, and it just feels a little bit more clunky, whereas MailerLite just feels smooth, easy to use, low friction. It's just pleasant. So I really love MailerLite. So I just wanted to kind of recommend it again. If anyone's looking for an email marketing tool in your massage practice, I would definitely take a look at MailerLite. It is free for up to 1,000 subscribers, I believe, so it's a pretty good value too.

AH Cool. I mean, we use it for Massage Business Blueprint, and it's fine. I like it. I don't love it. I'm not in love with it the way Michael is. I don't -- but it's free, and it's easy, so rock on.

MR I just appreciate the elegance of it so much. I know I'm a nerd.

AH There is an elegance. There is.

MR Yeah. So anyway. That's what I got.

AH Sweet.

MR All right. I think we are done for the day. So hey, thanks, everyone, for joining us. We appreciate it as always. You can find us on our website, which, as always, is massagebusinessblueprint.com. And if you are not a member of our Community yet, definitely take a look. It's a 30-day free trial. You can pop in there and say hello and get to know us for about a month before you really decide if you want to stick around. But it's an awesome community. We're doing really amazing stuff in there, some really good educational content, all kinds of fun stuff there. So check it out, and thanks for joining us today. We'll see you next time.

AH Bye.

Logo for Happyface
Logo for ABMP
Logo for Jojoba
Logo for Pure Pro Massage Products