Stop signThis week’s Keys to Keeping Chaos at Bay are used with permission from Susan Fee, Licensed Professional Counselor and an expert in personal and professional communication skills. I receive her free (and excellent) newsletter and always learn from it. Recently, I asked if I could share some of her ideas with you and she graciously agreed.Here’s what Susan says:

You make an impression every time you speak and the words you choose can subtly position you. Do you come across as a negative or positive person? Are you trustworthy? Judgmental? Do you follow through? Are you inflexible or open to new ideas? The way you express yourself can reveal a lot. Here are ten common words and phrases that can create unintended, negative impressions.

  1. But. Saying this word negates everything that precedes it and sounds like you’re talking out of both sides of your mouth: “I like you, but .” Replace it with “and” to make both sides of your sentence true: “I like you and .”

  2. Try. Saying you’ll “try” to do something reveals a lack of commitment and causes others to mistrust you. It’s a verbal escape clause. There’s a huge difference between trying to do your best and doing your best. Stop trying and just do it.

  3. Should. Whether you say this in reference to yourself (“I should go on a diet”) or when telling others what they should do, it comes across as judgmental, critical and negative. Eliminate it all together.

  4. Have to. Adults don’t like to be told what they have to do! The natural response is to resist and rebel. If you want cooperation offer options, choices, and suggestions. Allow others to be involved in the outcome rather than dictating it.

  5. Always. Rarely is this word an accurate description of a person or situation. Using it makes you sound too extreme. It’s much safer to use words such as: “sometimes,” “occasionally”, or “usually.”

  6. Never. Again, extreme language that categorically shuts down the other side as in, “I never see you help out.” Instead, give specific examples, or replace it with “sometimes” or “occasionally,” as in, “I feel that sometimes you could help out more.”

  7. Obviously. Since each of us bases our opinions on our own perceptions, what’s obvious to you may not be true for others. Assuming so comes across as arrogant. Instead of making broad generalizations, own your message, “Based on what I’ve noticed it appears to me.”

  8. Trust me. Trust is demonstrated consistently, over time. If you have to tell me to trust you, I’m already suspicious.

  9. To tell you the truth. This makes the listener wonder if you’ve been lying all the other times.

  10. Just between you and me. Gossip alert! You can be sure the information you share with this person will be reaching a much wider audience!

I hope you find these as helpful as I did. We can really help keep chaos at bay by paying attention to Susan’s ideas.  Here’s her full contact information:

Susan Fee, Licensed Professional CounselorSusan Fee & Associates, Inc.

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