It’s a Sunday in August.

I’m on flight TR18 ex Singapore to Perth. Just before take-off the announcement begins:

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m your Captain Jeremy Ng. And it’s my absolute privilege to be flying you to Perth on our 787 Dreamliner this afternoon.

The one word: privilege.

Interestingly, the service on the low-cost airline this day (Scoot — a Singapore Airlines subsidiary) was a whole notch above the ‘normal’ level; much bigger smiles, much more attentiveness.

Captain Ng’s ‘privilege’ seemed to have impacted the entire crew.

And it reminded me of a piece I wrote several years ago (pre-LinkedIN) about airlines and the words they use. I said then how interesting it was that airlines with extraordinary levels of service used the word ‘guests’ whenever they referred to their customers.

Contrast that with ordinary service (check American Airlines for example) using the word ‘passenger’ even in the CEO ‘briefing’ in the front of their in-flight magazines. And even worse, they use the short-form of that word (like so many travel companies) ‘pax’ on their internal forms and in their internal programs.

Go figure, which airline is going to give you the better service? The one that things of you as a guest or the one that internally refers to you as ‘a pax’?

And not surprisingly it doesn’t stop there.

Next time you’re in a restaurant and there’s a waiter about to take your order. Just ask them if you can see the form they’re about to write on. It’s a pretty safe bet that somewhere on the form is this phrase ‘Number of covers’. You’re a ‘cover’ as opposed to a guest!!

Perhaps even internally in your company, some people may still refer to ‘staff’ as opposed to ‘team’ — just ask yourself which one feels a warmer, friendlier place to be.

And in a sales situation you might still be saying things like ‘Here’s our quotation’ as opposed to the much better option, ‘Here’s the plan going forward ….’

One word changes so much. And here at B1G1: Business for Good we talk about it frequently as ‘the huge power of small’

I wonder what examples you have — do let me know.

It’ll be a privilege to hear from you.