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What Do You Associate With Certain Words?

by Ken Vincent, Featured Contributor

ANALYSTS HAVE long used word association tests to see how someone thinks and to evaluate their reasoning process. I used them for a different reason. I wanted to see how my reports viewed certain things.

It isn’t a hard test. You just write down the first word or idea that comes to mind when you see or hear a word. The first part of my test was pretty easy and the yield of responses were very consistent.

Examples:

HAMBURGER –> french fries.
CHEESE –> crackers.
PIZZA –> cheese or pepperoni.
PEANUT BUTTER –> jelly

However, when we moved past food, answers got more varied.

TEACHER –> homework, school, Miss Jones, recess.
BEACH –> sun, sand, hot, umbrella, swimming, volley ball.
NEW CAR –> Chevy, expensive, loan, warranty.
COW –> farm, milk, beef, Angus.

Then we got to the core of what I wanted to know. How did my reports view these matters?

LEADERSHIQuestionP –>
MANAGER –>
ETHICAL BEHAVIOR –>
WORK –>
MORALS –>
MANNERS –>
CLASSY –>
CUSTOMER –>

The responses to those words were always all over the board and many simply drew a blank.

If you held such an exercise with your reports what responses would you get? How would you answer them if you were given the test? Do you think the answers would vary a lot by age and/or experience/or education?


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Ken Vincent
Ken Vincenthttp://sbpra.com/KennethVincent/
KEN is a 46 year veteran hotelier and entrepreneur. Formerly owned two hotels, an advertising agency, a wholesale tour company, a POS company, a leasing company, and a hotel management company. The hotels included chain owned, franchises, and independents. They ranged in type from small luxury inns, to limited service properties, to large convention hotels and resorts. After retiring he authored a book, “So Many Hotels, So Little Time” in which he relates what life is like behind the scenes for a hotel manager. Ken operated more that 100 hotels and resorts in the US and Caribbean and formed eight companies. He is a firm believer that senior management should share their knowledge and experience with the next generation of management.

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