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Eliminate Weak Words from Your Workplace

Categories: Leadership Presence

wordchoiceLet’s continue our discussion from last week about word choices and how they can either help or hinder your career. I discussed the ubiquitous “try” in the previous post, along with all the reasons you might want to eliminate it from your business vocabulary.

Along the same lines as “try” are the equally unimpressive phrases “I think” and “I might.” They are particularly troublesome combined in the same sentence and rob your power. Here is an example: “I think we might be able to have that done by your deadline.”

In effect, the phrases “I think” and “I might” are the longer, wordier cousins of “try.” They make you sound uncertain. Uncertain is the opposite of confident.

If you’re really not sure of something, of course you don’t want to over-promise and then under-deliver. Your answer, however, can still be worded in a more certain and confident manner: “Let me do some research, and I’ll get back to you by Friday.”

I’m not saying you should never use the words "try" or the phrases "I think" or "I might." What I am saying is: The words you choose say something about you, how you see yourself, whether or not you can be trusted -- and much more.

Your word choices tell your clients, colleagues, in fact, everyone you come in contact with, whether you’re a confident person, a well-educated person, a business savvy person...

How about this scenario. You’ve just done a big favor for your boss. “Thank you so much,” she says with great appreciation and admiration. “No problem,” you say.

What could possibly be wrong with that answer? While, your response should convey the message that you were happy to do it, "No problem" implies that what you did was no big deal, when in fact it might have been a very big deal to the person thanking you.

I suggest that the traditional (and less casual) “you're welcome,” is a more professional way to go. “No problem” is a bit too casual and it carries unintended implications. So, use "you're welcome" or "my pleasure" to convey the most professional impression along with acknowledging the other person’s gratitude.

What are your thoughts on the subject of word choices in business? Do you believe they are important, or is it a wordy tempest in a teacup?

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