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Dealing with People - Words to Avoid

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You probably realise how the wrong tone of voice and negative body language can cause problems when dealing with other people, particularly customers and staff. However, using the wrong words can also cause problems.

There are certain "trigger" words that cause people to become more difficult especially in emotionally charged situations and they should be avoided. These include:

* Have to - as in - "You'll have to speak to the sales department yourself"

*I can't or you can't - as in - "I can't do anything about that" or "You can't do that"

*I'll try - as in - "I'll try and speak to finance department today"

*But - as in - "I agree with what you're saying but??.."

*Sorry - as in - "I'm sorry 'bout that"

"What DO I say I hear you cry?"

Instead of the words "Have to" which are very controlling type words, why not try - "Are you willing to?" or just a straight - "Will you?."

Can't, can be replaced with - "I'm unable to because?."

"I'll try," which is pretty wishy-washy, can be replaced with something more honest - "This is what I can do" or "This is what I'm unable to do"

"But" is a word that contradicts what was said before it, replace it with - "And" or "However" (which is a soft 'but')

Instead of saying "but" you could leave it out altogether. For example; instead of - "I agree with what you're saying but I can't help you" use - "I agree with what you're saying. The reason I'm unable to help you is??"

At the end of the day the answer to a customer or one of your staff could be -"no"- however, choosing your words more carefully will have a more positive affect on how he or she reacts and ultimately responds to you.

"Sorry" is one of the words to avoid because it is so overused and it's lost its value. Think of the number of times you've complained or commented about something and you hear - "Sorry 'bout that." If you're going to use the "sorry" word then you need to use it as part of a whole sentence - "I'm sorry you've been receiving so many complaints Mary."

Sometimes it's appropriate to use the word 'apologise' instead of 'sorry.' "I apologise for not getting you that information sooner."

For smoother interactions, take care with the words you use.

Discover how you can generate more business by motivating your team! Alan Fairweather is the author of "How to get More Sales by Motivating Your Team" This book is packed with practical things you can do to get the best out of your people. Visit

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