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Seven Deadly Words in Business And How To Avoid Them

Aug 17, 2007
Whether you're in business for yourself, part of a company, or trying to communicate with your family and friends, one of the key components to communication are the words you use. While the tone and packaging play a part in the effectiveness of the message - your words go a long way in opening or closing doors.

Here are seven words that have the highest probability in closing the doors and how you can choose differently.

Each of these words has the potential to immediately create a wall between the speaker and listener. You may even find that the listener [or your audience] stop listening when they hear the word spoken.

Your listeners beliefs, their experiences and the accepted definition of the word(s) used will either engage or disengage the listener from the message you want to communicate. Before opening your mouth to speak take but a moment and consider the desired outcome.

This list is to assist you in creating a greater awareness of your options and increase the probability of achieving your desired results.

Hard: generally defined as "something that is difficult or "not" easy; something that requires tremendous physical or mental energy to accomplish".

We are inundated in terms as well meaning as, "It requires hard work to get ahead", "Work hard and you'll be successful", "we need to work hard and put our noses to the grindstone if we're going to get this job done" and the list goes on.

Hard work happens when we are out of alignment with who we really are and/or the objective of our efforts. It is hard if we're moving away from what we don't want i.e. losing business, facing bankruptcy, low pay, limited clientele etc.

If we are passionate about what we're doing, where we're going, the desired outcome or rewards that lay ahead of us "hard" and "work" don't even enter our consciousness. I'm not advocating the insertion of the word "easy"; just consider the affect of the word "hard" and the possibility of simply dropping it from your vocabulary.

Problem: defined as "a state of difficulty that needs to be resolved". The conversation may include phrases like, "I have a problem with...", "The problem with this is..." or "Your problem is..."

If, what you're really after is a solution, then set your intention there and use that instead. If the current situation is unacceptable, start by stating the desired outcome or expectation.

Include the facts that may be leading to the perceived "problem", but only the facts. For example, if you were speaking to a business associate or employee, "Our client has ordered this item and the promised date of delivery is two weeks from tomorrow.

Based on the information that I currently have available we have completed (then list what has been done) and we still have these items ahead of us (again list the details). Would you help me in seeing how we can comply with our promised delivery date?"

Ultimately, remember there are no problems, only solutions.

Can't: the contraction of "can" "not" thereby being the opposite of possibility thinking (can). Have you ever told a child they can't" do something? How does it feel when you've been told "You can't do it that way." or "you can't possibly know what I'm talking about/how I feel." The entire inner child gets in the game at that point and it's "oh yes I can!" or even "I'll show you...!"

While I haven't figured out how to walk through walls, even though science has proved that nothing is "solid" and I don't believe that I can fly and I experience doubt at the thought of walking on water (even though it has been widely published that there were two individuals that have accomplished that feat) it's my beliefs that are creating my reality.

Consider using the words; "you may not know how to...", "you may not believe...", "you may not choose to..." as preferable options to using the word can't on yourself or anyone else and see what an empowering effect that has on those around you.

Difficult: defined as a "Hard to do or accomplish; demanding considerable effort or skill; arduous". Difficult is like "hard" in that it's just state of mind. The use of this word will tend to create obstacles in the mind of the listener.

It may be that you believe something is difficult but it is not necessary when talking about your business, your life or any task that is to be completed. Unless you're looking to see how a person reacts under high stress situations leave it out - difficult is just another relative term.

Impossible: I'd like to think that no one uses this any more but I've heard it in passing. The word "impossible" will only perpetuate the current reality so if you are looking to grow and change your business/life - leave it out and look for how something IS possible.

Need: defined as "anything that is necessary but lacking". There is a lot of conversation that seems to support the idea "tell people what you need so that your needs can be met".

What would it look like if you didn't get what you thought that you needed? What if you received something better? What if you asked the question, "What can we do to accomplish this goal?"

Just consider the reason behind the "need". As a leader it isn't that I need you to do a task or a job. I have a goal in mind and we have the opportunity to do whatever it takes to accomplish that goal. Ask questions and you might be surprised at what you can accomplish.

Want: also defined as "lack: the state of needing something that is absent or unavailable". This is similar to Need in that it implies the state of lack.
I might say, "I want you to perform a task" or "We want to increase our revenue by 20% in the next three months." Both, on a very subliminal level, imply that it's not happening, I know it, and therefore the focus is on the "not happening".

While you might find that the word "want" comes up frequently in everyday conversation consider putting the ideas out there in more concrete terms. Consider asking how long it will take to accomplish a specific goal or task or simply asking for the job to be completed by a specific time.

An example might look like this; instead of saying "I want this project completed by 5:00 PM next Tuesday." say, "Here is the project, please complete and return it no later than 5:00 PM next Tuesday." By putting it out there that way you are indicating that you know the project will be completed and you are projecting confidence in your people and the process.

You have the freedom to choose how you communicate with those around you. Since there are seven words consider taking one word for each day of the week and change your language, or increase your awareness over the next few weeks and see what changes it brings to you, your business and your life.
About the Author
Kira Wagner is a living example of recognizing choices to achieve tremendous results. Born to blind parents, she's aware that the only handicaps are those we place on ourselves.
Kira Wagner is a speaker, writer and seminar leader. For additional information visit my website at http://www.freedomsformula.com.
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