So often we hear It’s not what you say, but how you say it. Generally that’s taken in the context of tone of voice and body language, but oftentimes the specific words you use to express yourself are just as important.
Someone asks you if you’ll be able to get a project done on time. Yes you can – so you answer: Yes I think I can or Yes I can.
There may not seem like a huge difference between those two sentences, but one is an absolute affirmative, while the other still has question marks attached to it. Which one would you rather hear?
The words you choose speak volumes about you and at the same time influence how others perceive you.
Indefinite statements vs. definite statements
When you say things like I think or I guess, whatever follows is automatically on weaker ground than a simple direct answer. I guess I’ll go to that seminar implies and underlying unwillingness to do it and makes you seem wishy-washy. I think I’ll go to that seminar implies a lack of commitment. I should be able to go. I’m supposed to go. The listener all of those statements will still not have any idea of whether or not you actually have any intention of going.
Yes I’m going is clear and decisive.
No I don’t believe this will be of benefit to me removes any ambiguity and provides a reason.
If you actually don’t know, give a reason why and a time when you will have an answer. I have to check with X, I will let you know by the end of the day.
Avoid negative statements
If you want someone to listen with an open receptive mind, you’ll have more success if you frame what you have to say using positive words rather than negative ones.
Rather than Don’t always hit reply all, turn the statement around to Only hit reply all when necessary.
Instead of I don’t like negative people go with, I prefer positive people.
by removing the negative words you’re eliminating a negative undertone you may not even realize is there.
You may not be able to do everything you’re asked to do, however can’t is often people’s go-to word for won’t.
If you actually mean won’t then say so. It’s always better to be clear with your words and intentions. If what you’re being asked is outside of your skill set or knowledge then follow up with a solution. That’s not something I’m familiar with, I will call Sarah she can help. Or I have not done that before, I will find out how.
Your words are a reflection of who you are. People will be more inclined to listen to and follow someone who is direct, straightforward and positive. They will trust a person who is unambiguous in what they say.