700 first year students stood anxiously outside the auditorium doors waiting to start orientation and start their college careers. Inside the auditorium, I stood with a group of 20 Orientation Leaders with whom I had spent the last two hours doing a variety of leadership trainings. The last thing we needed to do was create a power phrase for our OL group. A phrase that we knew we could say at any moment throughout orientation and it would instantly send a surge of energy through the group.
The 20 OLs paused for a moment to internally survey their vocabulary database, then, slowly they started making eye contact with each other and smiled. Confused, I asked what was going on. The natural leader of the group spoke up…
“There’s only one phrase that I know we all know embodies what the last two hours have been like.”
“Well, what is it?” I pushed on.
“Turn Up!” He replied with a big smile. The other 19 OLs released a massive roar of celebration in support and they started chanting, “Turn up! Turn up! Turn up!”
Despite my natural reaction to want to correct their grammar and say, “Don’t you mean, turn it up?” I held back and instead asked them to tell me what the phrase means to them because honestly it was the first time I’d heard the phrase outside of a few rap songs.
Several years later, I was sitting in an APCA conference ed session in Las Vegas listening to SA Pros, Megan Siemers and Jeremy Ducos of NYIT-Manhattan. Their session title was, “Turn Up! Getting Excited about Commuter Based Programming.” In preparation for their session, they surveyed the NYIT faculty and students as to the definition of ‘Turn Up!’
It’s interesting to see how the faculty focused more on the literal usage of the phrase, “greater, growing, volume and raise” whereas the students focused more on the outcome and feeling of the phrase, “enjoying, indulge, celebration and joy.”
‘Turn Up!’ is just an example of one of many phrases that means one thing to students and another to the faculty, staff and administration. Take a moment to thumb through The Urban Dictionary and you’ll see what I mean. Some phrases are innocent fun whereas other phrases can lead to real trouble through misunderstanding.
In a previous post I outlined two concepts called, “The Prime Directive” and “Rapport vs Influence”, which I first learned about from an intense facilitation training I went through several years ago.
The basic idea is that if you want to have influence over someone, you have to have rapport with them, and to gain rapport, you have to go into their world and understand their world, then you can bring them back to your world to impart your influence. And because society is ever changing, we want them to go back to their world with their new found knowledge, instead of stay in ours.
With the OLs I was training, I went into their world to understand what ‘Turn Up!’ meant. Through my action of going into their world, I increased my rapport with them, which in turn increased my ability to influence them.
What phrases or words are your students or younger staff saying that you’ve shrugged off prior to reading this post? Maybe now is the time to take the time to go into their world and seek understanding. Best case situation is you increase your rapport…and ultimately influence with your students or staff. Worst case is you finally know the meaning of, “Yo I’m Turnt.”