During World War II, the U.S. Office of War Information posted the slogan “Loose lips sink ships” on posters. It has since become an idiom that serves as a warning to avoid careless talk. At any small business, the wrong words can sometimes damage your business credibility.
For example, here are 10 things people can say that could hurt a business interaction.
“Sweetie" or "Honey”
While you may sincerely have affection for the people you work with, these words can be inappropriate. There can be too many opportunities for the terms to be misinterpreted as either patronizing or as a romantic overture. Instead, consider using the person's name, which can provide the personalization needed.
“Can I be totally honest with you?”
Does this mean you weren't honest in the previous conversation? This can be a ridiculous statement. Every good business interaction should be “assumed” to be based on honesty. By asking for it at some point in the conversation, it can open up the idea that previously you were not telling the whole truth. Instead, consider saying something like, "I have always been totally honest with you, so that will not change ..."
“With all due respect.”
This is usually followed by something negative or a point of disagreement. Again, does this imply you weren't showing the other person respect in the previous part of the conversation? Respect is the basis of any important business relationship. Instead, maybe say, "since I have always respected you ..."
Some people use curse words for a special effect or as a joke. It's usually not funny and does not boost credibility. Instead, try talking louder or softer to have the same result.
“I don’t care about social media.”
This can show a lack of understanding and stubbornness to accept new ideas in the marketplace. Your credibility is not boosted inside or outside the company by not using social media like your customers are. Instead, consider saying something like, "I don't know a lot about social media, but ___ does."
“My competitor is horrible.”
Bad mouthing a competitor is a negative selling tactic, which likely will not boost credibility. Furthermore, if you aggressively say bad things about their company, chances are, they'll do the same to you. Instead, say why your company's solution is the better than that of your competitors.
Any political or religious comments.
This can be dangerous because you never know anyone's individual beliefs, and they'll typically keep any disagreements to themselves. This can be especially true in a presidential election year when emotions run high. Instead, say something like, "I try not to mix religion or politics with business."
“It’s their fault.”
Pointing a direct finger at a person usually doesn't help. Instead, find out why failure happened and what there is to learn. Then, consider putting processes and people in place so it doesn't happen again.
“I am the reason it was successful.”
Just because you take credit doesn't mean people believe it. The reason third-party peer reviews can be so powerful is that someone else is saying how great the company is, not you. Instead, try to give away the credit. If you deserve praise, it can boomerang back to you.
“Like" or "Umm”
This sounds like a lack of confidence and hesitancy about what you're saying. While this may not be the case, when you pause to say “umm,” the other person may think, "do they know what they're talking about?" or they may have drifted to think about another subject. In either case, practice speech patterns until you can pause and remain silent instead of using one of these filler words.
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