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Get it Right…Why Word Choice Matters

The other day I overheard a colleague say that one of our competitive advantages as a trusted energy advisor is that we are product and technology “agnostic” when it comes to recommending solutions to our customers. That word choice got me thinking about how we often use one word to convey a meaning when a different word is more precise.

The word in this case is “agnostic.” We often use this word, in a positive way, to mean unbiased or free from a particular (read proprietary) agenda and this is clearly what my colleague was trying to say. But to be true to the literal definition of the word, “agnostic” means “without belief.” Did my colleague really mean that we can be trusted advisors without a strong belief about what the best energy solutions are for our customers? Of course not, and in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Imagine you visit your doctor to discuss treatment options for your ailing knee. After listening to your trusted medical advisor describe a number of possible treatment choices, each of which addresses your underlying problem in different ways but with varying costs, risks and outcomes, you ask your doctor which treatment option is best suited for your particular condition. The last thing you want to hear is, “I’m agnostic.” You definitely don’t want your doctor to be “without belief,” in fact, you want the exact opposite. You want your doctor, your trusted medical advisor, to have an informed opinion derived from years of experience and current medical advances about which option is right for you. What you want, in fact, is for your doctor to be unbiased and independent of any agenda except that of helping your knee heal.  Being “agnostic” and without belief about the advice they provide is a non-starter.

The same is true for our role as a trusted energy advisor to the companies we interact with that are looking for help in understanding the increasing complexity of today’s energy markets, technologies and policies and are trying to decide which path to take to lower their costs, meet sustainability goals and plan for future growth. We add value and earn their trust if we take the time to understand our clients’ situation and business needs, and apply our deep understanding of these complex issues and offer an informed and independent recommendation as to what is best suited to their unique situation.

The breadth of the energy solutions we can provide, whether our own or from one of our trusted partners, is what allows us to offer truly independent and unbiased advice to our customers and to differentiate ourselves from other would-be consultant who are more interested selling their proprietary products. This is our competitive advantage and it allows us to offer unique and tailored solutions that meet our customers’ needs because we know that not all of their energy problems look like the proverbial nail and all we have in our toolbox is a hammer. And if in case you are wondering, I am definitely not agnostic about this point.

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