Mark Twain said the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug. The difference between words we use to get what we want can be the difference between success and failure.
Here are some phrases to use and phrases to lose when it comes to getting what you want.
USE: Would it make sense to….?
This is one of my favorite phrases learned from a fellow speaker, Lois Creamer. When you’re confident you have a solution, product or service that would add value to the issue or sale being discussed, people are less likely to say something doesn’t make sense than they are to say a flat out “no.” For example, your boss has discussed a meeting with a particular client you’d love to present to. You could say, “Would it make sense for me to be there since I’ve done X research and just completed Y (a similar project)?”
LOSE: Would it be okay if…?
Compared to the above phrase, this one sounds like you are asking permission and weakens the ask.
USE: I feel strongly about… We need to…
Stating assertively and directly what you want is something many women feel uncomfortable doing. We often ASSUME that our feelings and opinions are obvious and wind up feeling slighted and overlooked when those opinions are not taken seriously.
LOSE: I think it might be a good idea to kind of …
You may read the above phrase and think, “Come on, nobody really talks like that.” I’m sorry to say that you would be wrong. Women often fill sentences with what I call Minimizing Words, such as “think,” “might,” “maybe,” “sort of,” or “kind of.” Start paying attention to the Minimizing Words you and your colleagues use and get rid of them!
USE: Join me in creating/accomplishing/achieving X (goal/vision)
Human beings are inherently tribal and they like to feel they belong. By using this phrase, the listener can immediately picture themselves as part of the solution which will make them more likely to want to see it happen.
LOSE: I’M planning to create one of the best…
While it’s important to speak with confidence and vision, you don’t want to come off as a megalomaniac.
USE: I know you’d like to accomplish X and doing it this way will accomplish X as well as Y & Z.
People don’t do things for YOUR reasons, they do them for THEIR reasons. Try to find out what motivates your listeners emotionally. (save money, time, be more powerful)
LOSE: We have to do X.
No matter who you’re talking to… your listener’s first reaction verbally or non-verbally will by “Why?” Which is related to the last and simplest word you can use to get what you want.
USE: Because… (followed by a compelling reason)
Research by Social psychologist Ellen Langer showed that using the simple word “because” can increase your chances of getting what you want by 34%.
Now… go and get it! Whatever it is.