How well do you think you do when talking to a potential new client, or even to an existing one? I guess as long as we don’t lose that client (or we bag the new one) then we don’t think we’re doing too badly at all.

But what if we could do better?

Outside of specific tasks and client questions, I often find inspiration for articles whilst I’m having my first cuppa of the day and trawling through RSS news feeds. That was certainly the case for today’s article, and I must admit it made me think, laugh and cringe a little too!

According to top communication experts and career advisers, the following words should be eliminated from your vocabulary with immediate effect, and here’s the reasons why.

1. “Um”

The reason: It makes you seem indecisive and inarticulate.

2. “Can’t”

The reason: It’s instantly heard as a negative response. And perhaps without meaning to do so, it will be cemented in your client’s or potential client’s head and they may end up looking elsewhere for their support needs.

Rather than saying “can’t”, it’s suggested to say something along the lines of “I’d like to help with that and can learn / know the right person …”

Unless of course you don’t want the work!

3. “Like”

The reason: It’s an undescriptive word. According to Nancy Mobley, founder of consulting firm Insight Performance, it portrays poor communication skills.

That may not be entirely true every time you use the word, because often it’s a word that can potentially be used to appease a client, or not hurt a client’s feelings, when in reality you don’t “like” it and think there is a better solution for their needs.

Whichever way, it’s recommended to erase it from your vocab, and find a better way of expressing your response.

4. “Never”

The reason: Similarly to “can’t”, this is an instantly negative word and rules out even the remote possibility of doing whatever you said “never” too, at some point in the future – which you may regret.

5. “But”

The reason: It completely overrules whatever has been said beforehand.

Better to rephrase your sentence to structure it more positively. For example “That’s a great idea, and the result of that will be … “, “That’s a great idea. I think the biggest challenge will be …”, “That’s a great idea. I know someone who will be able to help …”, “That’s a great idea. So looking at timings, I will be able to …”

6. “Probably”

The reason: It doesn’t have any confidence in it. As a business owner you need to be positive and firm when talking to clients. They don’t want to hear any hesitancy in your voice. By saying “probably” you must have an inkling that you can do it. So when speaking to clients be strong and positive, even if you’re not totally feeling it inside.

7. “No”

The reason: Negative, negative, negative! This is the most negative word that you can possible use. If you really mean “no” then say differently and less unhelpfully. For example “I wish I could, however I don’t have the level of expertise you need to be able to help.” Then try to offer a solution. This way you’ve provided value even if you couldn’t provide the service.

So come on, how many of these words slip in to your vocab on a regular basis? I know I was rather alarmed when I thought back over conversations with clients in the past.

It’ll be interesting to see if you think for a split second longer next time, before responding to your client’s strange request!