The strongest message can be diluted by an inappropriate choice of words. Your message may not be perceived as confident or business-oriented as you really are. Remember, your message is three-fold: body signals (do they match what you’re saying?), tone of voice and choice of words.
Business language is different from social conversation.
- Avoid using “empty” modifiers such as thanking a sales representative “so very much,” or referring to a job applicant as a “lovely person.” A better choice of words would include bright, intelligent, quick wit, etc.
- Instead of saying, “That was great!” try “I felt you gave an excellent and thorough presentation. It will be very helpful to us.”
Exclude “tentative” words such as “I was kind of wondering if” or “I think we could try.” Eliminate “well,” “sort of,” “kind of” and “maybe” from your business vocabulary. These phrases all show uncertainty.
Leave out cold and dictatorial commands. Use “please,” “when you can,” and “what do you think?”which are better choices.
- Harsh: “I want to talk to you.”
- Uncertain: “May I talk to you?”
- Confident: “I want to talk with you when you’re free.”
Consider the kind of message that each of the following phrases projects:
- “Maybe you could call tomorrow?” “Call tomorrow.” “Please call tomorrow by 3:00 p.m.” The third is the most favorable for cooperation and clarity.
- Self-effacing: “I know this sounds stupid, but…” Apologies don’t contribute to the speaker’s image of a confident professional. Instead, it is better to say, “Tell me if I’m on the right track with this, I believe…”
Be careful not to raise your voice at the end of each sentence: “Hello? This is John? I’m calling about your monthly report?” Statements that sound like questions give an impression of uncertainty in the caller’s voice and may not generate any response.
There are certain words that affect a person more negatively in comparison with other words that have the same meaning. Substitute negative statements with positive ones.
Instead of saying “You don’t understand,” say “Let me explain.” Instead of remarking “You’re wrong,” say “Permit me to clarify.” Instead of stating “You failed to say,” just mention “Perhaps this was not stated.”
Nothing could be more pleasing than to hear someone else say that you are right. In this case, be prepared to let other people know that you respect their opinions even if you don’t agree. You may add your comments at the end, but acknowledge them and their contributions to the conversation first.
- You’re right, although …
- Great suggestion, however …
- I agree with your opinion, however …
- I would feel the same way if I were you, although …
- I understand your situation, however …
Force yourself to stand tall, walk with authority, look others in the eye and speak up. If you’re nervous, you may need to speak more slowly and lower your pitch (especially important for women) and maintain control of your hands.
Remember: Winston Churchill was a self-made speaker. He was 5/5” tall, stuttered, lisped and had no formal college education. He was so terrified of public speaking that he passed out while delivering a speech to the House of Commons. However, he practiced his speeches for four hours and became a great orator and statesman! Practice makes perfect!!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rita Rocker is a national inspirational and educational speaker, communications and image specialist, and a career and virtual presentations coach with Transformation Academy, LLC. She is the author of “A Guide to Marketing Yourself for Success”, and a contributing author to “The Unstoppable Woman’s Guide to Emotional Well Being -The Total Woman in Leadership and Success Guide for the Unstoppable Entrepreneur.” She has appeared on national television and radio talk shows on self-esteem and communication. A former Mrs. Nebraska and active in numerous professional organizations, Rita is on the Board of the Small Business Association of the Midlands and co-director of greater Omaha’s Affiliated Women International. Rita provides life and career-transforming programs to mature teens and adults. Contact Rita at firstname.lastname@example.org.