Power of Activation Words

I had the joy of attending the ACA Staff Summit this past month. While a majority of the sessions tackled the hiring challenges camps are already facing this off-season, one speaker tackled the power of activation words, Dr. Jones. As camp leaders, we already recognize that our language choices directly influence how our team feels; positively associated words typically create a positive lens through which we experience something and negatively associated words typically form a negative lens through which our team views their experiences. 

But, Dr. Jones takes it further… Our word choice directly influences their behavior and performance. While this might seem like a “DUH!” realization, this understanding carries with it so much influence. Simply by framing a task using words like support, respect, collaborate versus win, interrupt, and should we can prime staff’s behavior, not simply the perspective of their experience. Dr. Jones shared a study where two separate groups of people were asked to play games. One group was primed with positive activation words where the other group was primed with negative deactivation words. The results were fascinating: “the group that was primed [with] the more negative [words] had 60% more negative behavior.” 

As the industry is actively recruiting year-round and seasonal staff,  this new information brought language choice to the forefront of my interactions while recruiting and growing our team. 

Happy hiring, 

Maggie Lewicki

Camp Ton-A-Wandah 

Sandi Boyer
Sandi Boyer
Sandi is NCYCA's executive director.