Thursday, Jul 9, 2020
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Six phrases no true professional should say

There are a few phrases that everyone should eliminate from their professional vocabulary. They simply do not convey the right message and can diminish your professional credibility. Here are some of the ones which you should consider getting rid of:


“No problem”

What does that mean? Are you saying that I should view my request as a problem, but you are excusing me? When you oblige a customer’s request, they simply assume your delivery was a part of your job, and they are correct. So, it really is inappropriate to convey that it may have been a problem. When a customer thanks you for your fine service, some more professional responses might be: “My pleasure”, “I’m happy to help” or “You’re welcome”.

“No problem” is too informal for a business setting, and it does not really express what you want the customer to know.


“As soon as possible”

So, when exactly is that? Is it possible today, tomorrow or next week? “As soon as possible” does not answer when you will deliver on a request. It leaves the requestor hanging. If you do not know the answer, provide a time frame. You can also provide the circumstances needed. For example, “As soon as the manager signs off, which should be later today”, or “As soon as the shipment comes in, which should be tomorrow afternoon” are both more conclusive.

If you are really interested in being a consummate professional, offer to follow through: ‘Mr. Smith, I will call you as soon as I get word’. What you want to communicate is you understand the client is anxious and you will do everything in your power to keep them informed.

“As soon as possible” is an aloof and unhelpful response.


“I Can’t”

The word “can’t”, is the most disempowering word in the English language. It should be eradicated. There is no such thing as can’t. When you tell someone you can’t, it really means you won’t. The word “can’t” sends negative energy and it is unprofessional. Everyone knows there is a way around every system, and if the company really wanted to grant the request it could. If it is against the policy, you choose not to comply because you may lose your job. Do not say “can’t”. Your goal should be to ensure the customer has a good experience dealing with your establishment and you. If you are unable to grant a request, tell them what you can do. Find positive ways to deliver a negative message.


“I will try”

The wise character, Yoda from Star Wars said, “Do, or not do. There is no try”. When you ask someone to do something and they tell you they will try’, what does your gut tell you? Do you believe it will get done? “Try” is non-committal; that is why it has no place in business. Instead, commit. It makes you a real professional. If you are not committed, then do not pretend by offering to try, it diminishes your credibility. Instead, offer to do your best. Once you commit out loud, you significantly increase your chances of succeeding.


“I’m sorry”

Although apologizing in business is extremely important, the word “sorry” carries weak implications. When a professional says they are sorry, they are focusing their attention on themselves. Too often the word “sorry” is stated as a way to be excused. If you have inconvenienced your customer or the person is having a bad experience that is somehow linked to your company, the better phrase is “I apologize”. These words should be offered with sincerity and immediately followed up with what you are going to do to make it right.


“Would have”

I am not sure why people use this phrase when relaying a story, but in most cases, it does not make sense. Here is an example, “He would have paid for those services at the end of the month.” What does that mean? Did he or didn’t he? As you can see, inserting this phrase creates ambiguity, not clarity. “He paid for those services at the end of the month” is clear and definitive.

If you want to increase your power to influence, it is important to say what you mean and mean what you say.

If your communication skills are holding you back from the success you deserve, I am excited to work with you. Contact me to find out about my small group or one-on-one coaching.


• Kim Welcome is the CEO of Influential Voice. A communication trainer and coach, she assists businesses and professionals to achieve their goals by helping them to develop deliberate, skillful, polished communication skills. Contact: [email protected] or call 242-225-9013.




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