Have you ever seen the person you were speaking with shut down in reaction to something you said? The words you choose can make a huge difference.
Be aware of these powerful words and use them carefully and purposefully:
1. No – “No” stops people in their tracks. It puts up a wall. It closes down communication. Even if you disagree or feel the answer is “No,” you can sometimes still answer “Yes” and clarify the conditions in your response. For example, the employee asks, “Can I have a $5/hour raise? You could say, “No way!” Or you could say, “I’m glad to see your drive. Here’s what I would need to see in order to give you a raise of that size. You would need to increase your production by 200%, train new people in the position and be a leader on our annual project.”
2. Yes – At the same time, “Yes” is extremely powerful as well. It makes people happy to talk to you. It opens doors. It opens communication. If there is any way you can be honest and forthright and say “Yes,” do so.
For example, “Yes, I’d be happy to look at that.
Let’s find 10 minutes next week,” is much better than saying, “I’m too busy and can’t look at that right now.” That would cause them to feel unimportant, no matter how busy they know you are.
3. You – It’s almost impossible to start a directive sentence with the word “You” without it feeling like you are pointing a finger.
An example: “You need to fix that problem.” Instead you might say, “I’d like to see you take on that challenge. Why don’t you give it a try and if you’re struggling come see me to ask me some questions.”
4. Why – “Why” can be a pushy sort of word, even if you don’t mean it to come across that way.
An example: If I asked you, “Where did you go to college?” You tell me where, and I ask, “Why?” You say, “Because I liked it there when I visited.” I say, “Why?” Eventually, you start to feel as if I am being critical of your decisions. Use the other “W” words if at all possible to ask the same question, but in a less pushy way. “What made you decide to attend that college?” “When did you make a decision on which college to attend?” “Where else did you consider attending?”
5. But – When you put “but” in the middle of a sentence, you are usually saying that one half of the sentence is a lie.
An example: “I really like that idea, but it won’t work.” “That’s a great idea, but…” is essentially saying that it is not a good idea. Replace the “but” with a pause or an “and.” “That’s a great idea, and I’d like to explore the details a bit more, including the cost of implementation.”
6. Their name – Everyone likes the sound of their own name. I realized the other day just how little I ever said my best friend’s name. You tend to just talk if you are around someone a lot. Getting someone’s attention by using their name is powerful and will start the conversation on a positive note.
Have you ever responded powerfully to one of these words? Maybe you bristled when someone told you “No!” or started a statement with the word “You.” On the other hand, maybe you felt good when you heard the word, “Yes,” or someone used your name when they were speaking with you. Do you use these power words often and well?