Power Words

Think before you speak.

As a professional speaker, I have to choose my words very carefully.  After all, the words I choose are the single most important tool in my craft.  Not so long ago I was “busted” for making some poor word choices, so I thought I might pass on what was a very valuable lesson.  On the left are some common, often misused words and phrases. Their more powerful alternatives are in italics on the right.

No problem

My pleasure

Cheap

Affordable

Always

Usually

Never

Rarely, seldom

Every

Most of the time

Our policy

To be fair

Right/wrong

Appropriate

Expensive

Valuable

No choice

Out of options

I don’t know

Let’s find out

Impossible

Difficult (very)

Crisis

Situation

Change

Improve

Hate

Not comfortable

Going crazy

Really busy

As you see, most of the alternatives we’ve selected  “soften the blow”, especially when your goal is to deliver what may be perceived as “bad news.”  Many of the alternatives can actually prevent conflict.  For example, since none of us are perfect, the use of “always”, “every”, or “never”, commonly referred to as “absolutes”, is seldom proper or appropriate. 

Yes, there are exceptions.  You should floss your teeth every day. You should always wear your seat belt.  You should never tell a lie. 

Get real!  We all make mistakes. Our goal is to make fewer mistakes than the next guy.  Uh, I mean gal. Oh, I mean person.  Choose your words carefully. Your critics will be less critical and you’ll be a more effective communicator.