rightsizingThis may seem a little nit-picky, but terms you use in a conversation can sometimes make a big difference. For example, the first time I heard the term downsizing, it was used as a negative connotation. The definition of downsizing according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is, ‘to reduce in size’. That doesn’t really sound so bad.

It was quite a while ago and it was used in the media to describe a strategy that large companies were implementing to cut costs. These companies were laying off large groups of employees to save money because they were not making enough sales to meet projections for the year. That is a very negative connotation for the employees that had to find another job.

The next time I heard the term downsizing it was used by service companies that help senior’s move to smaller footprints such as retirement communities or assisted living facilities. Now I don’t know exactly what seniors think when they hear the term ‘downsizing’, but the fact is that since they are moving to a smaller space, they realize they won’t be able to bring with them all of the items that they have in their current home. Items that are a life’s accumulation of possessions, and that they consider cherished memories of their past. That is a huge change for them and we all know that the older we get, we become set in our ways and change does not come easily to us. So, once again the term downsizing gets a bad rap.

So what if we replaced the term, downsizing to rightsizing, how does that sound? To me, rightsizing sounds much more positive. When I mention it in conversations that I am having with others related to the task of reducing belongings, it is received in a much more positive light. There are many ways to rightsize belongings to mitigate the risk of losing memories of a cherished past, but that is for another post. For now, let’s just work on a more positive communication strategy so that such a major life style change does not become more stressful than it needs to be.