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
*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
*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
Sometimes it's appropriate to use the word 'apologise'
instead of 'sorry.' "I apologise for not getting you that
For smoother interactions, take care with the words you use.
Discover how you can generate more business by motivating
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.