Words to the Wise

By David Friedman

Which of these two statements do you find to be more effective?

“I think you might like this new service we offer,” or
“You’re really going to like this new service we offer.”

What’s In A Word? The difference in wording is fairly subtle but the influence communicated to your customer can be profound. Reread both sentences. The first one contains a weak, wimpy word. In this case, it’s the word “think.” Naturally, there are times to use the word “think” as in when you’re really thinking about something. But in the example above, it makes the speaker appear unsure or insecure with what they’re saying. Some people inadvertently use weak, wimpy words because they think it sounds less combative while in reality, it sounds indifferent and ineffective.

Notice how the second example sentence above is confident and strong? That’s a statement from someone who believes in what he or she is saying! Weak, wimpy words make you appear less confident about the message you’re trying to get across to coworkers or customers. While they may seem harmless on their own, weak, wimpy words will subtly undermine the effectiveness of your business communication.

It Starts Out Naturally: Don’t feel bad. Weak, wimpy words gained a foothold into our personal vocabularies before we even knew we were using them. But once you start to pay attention to weak, wimpy words you’ll begin to catch yourself using them and more importantly, begin to construct more confident sentences. You’ll also begin to notice how often others use them.

Other Weak, Wimpy Words

  • Just, as in “I was just calling to tell you about the new communication course we’re offering.” Replace it with, “I’m calling to tell you about the new communication course we’re offering!”
  • Think as in “I think this sentence will be much stronger without those first two words. Replace it with, “This sentence is much stronger without those first two words!”
  • Wondering and might, as in “I was wondering if you might want to go to dinner and a movie with me this weekend.” Replace it with, “Would you like to go to dinner and a movie this weekend?”
  • You can probably think of many more examples such as “possibly” or “maybe.” The definition of a weak, wimpy word is any modifying word or phrase that makes you sound less confident and can easily be removed, making your original sentence stronger.

We’re All In Sales – Be Confident! It doesn’t matter if you sell widgets or assist customers with their challenges. We are all in sales. Some of us directly sell products and others “sell” assistance, good treatment, or ideas.  No matter what type of customer interaction we engage in, it’s important that we express ourselves in a confident manner.

Be confident in your company’s offerings and abilities. Don’t be afraid to be an advocate for your company. Customers want to do business with organizations and people who believe in what they do and exude confidence and strength. As consumers, we all want to feel like we’ve made the right decision.

In closing, you just might want to possibly think about maybe not using weak, wimpy words in the future. Put another way, removing weak, wimpy words from your vocabulary will help you communicate with greater confidence!

Telephone Doctor is a twenty-year old training company that has helped over 20,000 organizations improve the way they communicate with customers. David Friedman is Vice President and General Manager of Telephone Doctor.

[From Connection MagazineJan/Feb 2004]