Words to Live By

Posted by Ronald Hickland on

How we communicate with people can often determine their perception of us.  Do you want to be perceived as confident and positive or insecure and negative?  Here are a few words to avoid in your day to day to communicate in a more positive light.

There is No Try

This is something we train our staff on from the beginning.  When you “try” to do something, you are giving yourself an out before you even begin.  When I first learned this, here is how it was explained to me by my boss:

If I tell you I’m going to try and pay you on Friday, how confident are you that you will be paid on Friday?  Now if I tell you I’m going to pay you on Friday, do you think I’m going to pay you?

Keep that in mind when you’re communicating with people.  There are even simple things we say all the time.  For instance, “I tried to call you.”  Did you really TRY to call?  No, you called and didn’t get through.  Eliminate this word from your vocabulary and people will begin to have more confidence in you.  You will also think twice about the words coming out of your mouth.  Are you over-promising and under-delivering or under-promising and over-delivering.  I don’t know about you, but I would rather be doing the latter.  If we’re only trying to do something, we’re likely to under-deliver.

No But’s

I love what you’ve done here, BUT…

What do you think is coming next?  We have trained ourselves to expect something negative after hearing the word but.  This can immediately put the person you’re talking to into a defensive position.  What happens when we are defensive?  Typically, we stop listening and start thinking about how we can defend what we did.  Either coming up with an excuse or a come-back.

Correction: I love what you’ve done here, AND…

So now, the listener doesn’t immediately get defensive.  You could be saying, AND, here’s what I liked best or you could be saying AND, here’s how you could improve it.  Either way, they are more likely to listen to the rest of your sentence without being defensive.

No Problem!

Have you ever eaten at Chick-fil-a? What do the workers say when you thank them?

“My pleasure!”  It sounds so sincere.  It seems like they TRULY enjoyed serving you.  I know when I interact with people, I would prefer that they think I truly enjoyed the experience.  I don’t want people to feel like it was a burden to assist them.  

So what does “no problem” say?  It says, “You may have thought you were burdening me but it’s no problem.”  That doesn’t make it seem like you really enjoyed helping them.  

This one is ESPECIALLY important to remember at work.  It is one of my biggest pet peeves when someone tells me “no problem” when they’re doing their job.  I want to respond, “Of course it’s no problem, this is what you’re being paid for.”

Changing from No Problem to My Pleasure is a big change - and it can feel a bit superficial at first.  You can take baby steps though.  Maybe start out with you’re welcome.  That’s still a big step from no problem.

Wrap Up

It will take some work eliminate these things from your vocabulary.  You will find once you have accomplished this, it will sounds like nails on a chalkboard when they come out of someone’s mouth.  You may even cringe a little when you hear these words.  That’s when it’s time to educate the person saying it to help them communicate more efficiently as well.

Are there some common sayings that you hear which can create a negative interaction with a person?  We would love to hear your tips for better, more positive communication in the comments.


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