Thursday, 16 June 2011

Three little words to avoid

I liked this, from Kay White. (Hope she won't mind me re-printing: all publicity for her).

It’s easy to overlook the small things in life and here are three small words which can make a HUGE difference in your results as a freelancer, writes Kay White, founder of mentoring and training company Way Forward Solutions. I’m talking about the results you get from your relationships, the connections you make and the results that affect whether your clients – and your team – take feedback and suggestions from you; instructions even. Interested?

1. But

I call ‘but’ a banana skin, it’s literally a word that trips people up and affects the way people take on feedback. But is, in effect, The Great Eraser. What you say after the ‘but’ is what people remember and what you say before it is what is, effectively, erased by the word ‘but. “That report was great but it was a bit too long” or “The way we operate is really very easy but it takes some getting used to.”

I recommend you flip it – that’s the easiest way to step over it and avoid it tripping you up. “That reports was a bit too long but it was great” or “The way we operate takes some getting used to but it’s really very easy” – you can immediately notice the difference. If you start with the normal negative bit first, then put “and” in place of “but”. The “and” becomes a bridge and you avoid The Great Eraser.

2. Why?

Now the question Why is a tricky one. Using “why” to start your question immediately puts people on the defensive. It sends them to justify themselves. It does this because when we’ve been asked “why did you XYZ?” the first word that comes up for us is “because”.

Why implies judgement of some form and when negotiating or wanting to engage people we want to keep them open, not close them down by getting them to justify themselves or their choices. Start your “Why” questions with “What” or “How” or “When” instead – more open and more information-gathering rather than justification-seeking. Simple!

3. Not

Now this follows the principle of “you can’t think about what you don’t want to think about without thinking about it”. If I tell you “do not think about a pink elephant wearing a tutu” – I know ,and so do you, that the first thing you have to think about it “a pink elephant wearing a tutu” before you can really get what I’m asking you to do. The way to avoid planting negative suggestions, things we don’t want people to do, is to ask ourselves “what do I want them to do instead?”

Kay White is author of the Number 1 Bestseller for Customer Service “The A to Z of Being Understood.”