Five Words and Phrases to Leave Behind

In a world where nuance and connotation are significant factors, there are a number of words and phrases that you can do without. These expressions can not only set the wrong framework, but can destroy any chances of agreement or consensus. How many are you using? 

1.“To be honest” – Using this phrase opens up the perception that at times you might be dishonest at times, a loss of credibility no one can afford. Better to use, “to be frank” or “Frankly,…”.

2.“I would argue that….” – Arguments tend to polarize people. This phrase immediately sets up a win/lose scenario and often there is nothing good that can come from it. You may win the argument, but lose the relationship, deal or opportunity.

3.“But…” – With a nod to the sales training book, “Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play¹”, the word “but” negates everything that comes before it and dismisses another’s point of view. It is one-upmanship and doesn’t work well in collaborative situations.  

4.“Why…” – Why is a challenging word and is somewhat confrontational asking someone to defend their position. Eliminating it or designing a work-around phrase (i.e., what do you think the factors leading up to that are?) will serve you well. If you must use why, at least soften it like, “just out of curiosity, why do you think that is?).

5.“Actually…” – Another dismissive word, it overrides what anyone else has said, makes the sayer seem like a know-it-all and is close to factually which indicates the other person is inaccurate at best or a liar at worst. 

Most often we cover these and similar communication intricacies with clients’ sales people, however, they are universal and apply to most human interactions. Add in Daniel Pink’s premise that, with a new definition for sales based upon the characteristics of the age in which we live, practically all of us in sales or the business of persuasion.

With that being the case, those who want to succeed will look into all aspects of their communication and become artists in how they construct meetings, conversations and their vocabulary. Then the thoughts above become essential. 

¹ From “Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play” authored by Mahan Khalsa.
² From “To Sell is Human” by Daniel Pink. 

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