The Three Words That Effective Communicators Avoid

In today’s world, being an effective communicator is no longer desirable, but essential.

Thankfully, making a few tweaks to your day-to-day language can reap big rewards in this department. In one week, we can all improve our communication skills. Yes, I know, that’s a big claim- but it’s true. Just ask Carmine Gallo, author of bestseller ‘Talk Like Ted’.

Cutting these three little words out of conversation will take you in the right direction.

1. ‘But’

Meet culprit number one: ‘but’.

If there is one word you should try to avoid when giving constructive criticism, it’s ‘but’.

We’ve all heard someone say something like this: “I like the way you did X, but I don’t like Y”.

The thing is- it’s not always necessary for someone else to be wrong for you to be right. When you need to disagree with someone, it’s often better to express your contrary opinion as an ‘and.’ “You think we need to leave time to do X, and I’m concerned that we need to spend time on Y. What are our options?” That way, you can reach a solution together.

2. ‘Sorry’

Most of us say sorry at times when we don’t need to (myself included), such as when we make tiny mistakes, when we state an opinion, or when someone points out something we’ve forgotten. The problem is that the more we apologise for these silly little things, the less we appear like the assertive, strong, independent men and women we are (cue Beyoncé).

It’s also worth trying switching “sorry” for “I apologise”, for those times when you really need to use it. Not only can “sorry” dampen your assertiveness, it’s also so overused, often coming across as non-genuine. “I apologise,” on the other hand, is used infrequently enough that it still has meaning. When you use it, people tend to know that what you’re saying comes from the heart.

If “I apologise” doesn’t feel right for you, you could also swap “sorry” for: “You’re right, I apologise”, “Going forward I will…”, or “I understand why you’re upset”.

3. ‘Just’

This innocent looking word might just be ruining your well-meaning advice.

Sure- you’re trying to sound upbeat, and you’re trying to solve your friend’s problem, but using this little word could signify that you haven’t taken the time to consider the complexity of the issue at hand. In reality, as we all know, it’s never easy to “just go on a diet” or “just quit your job”.

Try to pause and reflect before this naughty little word sneaks into your conversation again- and stops you from being seen as a great advice-giver.


Amber Goodwin

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