The (Real) Magic Word

by Scott Noelle

Most of us were taught that “the magic word” is please. Just say “please” and you’ll get what you want... (Maybe.)

We quickly learned that a certain kind of theatrics was required to unleash the word’s magic: begging and pleading. But pleading always feels disempowering — not very magical.

Fortunately, there’s a word with real magic: LET’S.

We used it mostly with other kids, since grown-ups didn’t really believe in magic. Nobody told us it was a magic word, we just knew intuitively that we could use it to co-create whatever we wanted:

  • Let’s play!
  • Let’s pretend!
  • Let’s go puddle stomping!
  • Let’s make a fairy castle!
  • Let’s build a treehouse!
  • Let’s start a band!

The essence of letting is allowing, which is the key to creativity. And the apostrophe-S stands for “us.” So LET’S is really an invitation to co-create.

It’s good to model politeness and use “please” with your kids, but if it turns into pleading, you’re modeling disempowerment. Switch to LET’S and you’ll model empowerment through partnership...

“Would you PLEEEEEASE help me clean up this mess!?” :-(

“LET’S clean this up together!” :-)

Originally published on 2006-09-18
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