The discounter -- "I may be wrong, but..." or "This may be a silly idea, but..."
I truly feel sorry for the people who diminish the impact of their ideas, opinions, and actions. When you say these things in a meeting, you are revealing to the participants how much value you place on yourself and your message. "Well, I know you're going to disagree, but I think we should be charging more to our clients." Wow, this guy has got to be kidding, right? I would have preferred that my CFO said, "Given that our manufacturing costs have gone up 20 percent in the last 18 months, we will need to pass some costs to our clients."
The hedge -- "Don't you think?" or "OK?"
These phrases are commonly known as hedging -- seeking validation through the use of overly cautious or non-committal words. If you truly are seeking approval or looking for validation, these phrases may well apply. However, if your goal is to communicate a confident commanding message and persuade people to see it your way, instead of hedging, make your statement or recommendation with certainty.
Imagine your lawyer saying, "This is a good company to merge, don't you think? I'll write up the papers, if that's OK with you." Instead, you'd probably want to hear something like, "This merger is astute and will triple a return on investments. With your approval, I'll write up the legal documents needed for next steps."
The superior -- "I don't have time for this right now" or "I'm too busy"
Even if these statements are true, no one wants to feel less important than something or someone else. When I answer the phone, the caller usually asks me if this is a good time to speak. Usually I'm busy, but unless I'm late for a meeting or missing a deadline, I invariably answer, "I'm not too busy for you." Like many people in business, I need to foster positive relations and expand my reputation. Let's face it, everyone is busy!
Most of these phases are common and some are difficult to eliminate from our vocabulary, but I think if we start paying attention to our words and how we deliver them, we might be able to build a better career, close more deals, make more money, and have happier relationships at home and in the office. Our words reflect who we are and they can encumber our career as well as help achieve greatness. Here is a tip to build self-awareness and eradicate the phrases from your conversations:
When you're on the phone in a business setting, record your side of the conversation and then listen to the recording afterward. Sometimes it's helpful to have a trusted colleague listen with you and ask them their opinion. Be on the listening for phrases on this list or any other words or phrases that may be perceived as limiting or negative? When I first started recruiting, I used a note pad (I still do) with two things on the top -- the "do's" and "don'ts." I would write down the sayings that worked and the ones I will never use again. I keep that list to this day.
Erika Weinstein is CEO and founder of eTeam Executive Search.
On Twitter? Follow Erika Weinstein at @eTalentSeeker. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.
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