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March 2008
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Take Your Word For It
The Power of Your Words
Do you want to make a positive difference for others, with your spoken (and written) words? Would you like to have your company and/or yourself connect with others more often? Would you like to take on some rapport-building language? If so, read on...
  • Do you know someone that runs their business from their apartment...ahem...I mean, "Suite?"
  • Ever hear a restaurant's hostess page, "John, party of one? John, party of one?"
  • Have you noticed that companies like Nordstrom and Target are now referring to their staff as "Associates" and "Team Members" rather than "employees?"
  • How often do you hear a voicemail greeting begin with, "I am sorry, but unfortunately I'm unable to take your call?"
What do all of these examples have in common? You just noticed how other people can (and are) either using their words purposefully or without consideration for their impact on others.

Talk to the Hand
The other day, I called a technology services provider to refer some new business their way. The gentleman I was calling for was out of the office, so his associate said, "Should I put you into his voicemail?" At first glance, this may seem like a normal and even common question...

The translation: "I cannot/will not help you. I've already wasted too much time on you and would now like to dump you into a deep, dark, digital abyss. Good luck ever hearing back from him. In five seconds I will have completely forgotten about you." Wow, all of that from a simple, everyday question? Perhaps.

If you hadn't seen the above title, you may have assumed we're talking about customer service here...or...should we say...client service.
Instead, the intention of this article is to invite you to take notice of your words and how they may be landing for others. Consequently, this topic will lead to client satisfaction and enlightened leadership.


By first noticing the subtle and often not-so-subtle impact, and then adopting a few positive habits, you will experience a recognizable difference for yourself and others. Here are some substitutions that I invite you to consider:
  • Customer ............................................. Client
  • I appreciate it ........................................ I appreciate you, for...
  • I am out and will not be returning until ..... I will return on...
  • But ...................................................... And (or a brief pause)
  • What do you mean? .............................. How do you mean?
  • Pitch .................................................... Presentation
  • Talk to ................................................. Talk with
  • Cost ..................................................... Investment
  • Problem ................................................ Challenge
  • Company policy ........................... Just tell them what you can do.
  • Not a problem .............................. Can do; It would be my pleasure
Finally, prefacing something by saying, "Not to..." does not forgive what you are about to say. (i.e., Not to sound negative, but..." or "Not to interrupt you, but..." or "Not to worry you, but...") When you think about it, isn't this an ironic track of words?

Since your words are creating your reality and impacting others, then the next time someone hits you with the most commonly asked question, "How are you?" what will your reply be? "Excellent," of course!

Recognizing that some of these suggestions may require further explanation, I welcome your phone calls and e-mails.

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."
-Mark Twain


All the best!

Steve


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