Never say these phrases

Vitaliy Rizhkov by on September 19, 2016

When I ask my son why he’s not doing what I asked him to do, he often replies, “I’m trying.” But he’s not. People often say they are trying or doing the best they can, but it’s more of an excuse or automatic response. It means nothing.

In this post, I want to talk about phrases you simply should never say—especially in business. Saying them can turn off clients and cause you to lose their business. In fact, if you’re using some of these phrases right now, you may be failing in other areas of your life. Read this post, remember these phrases, and then work to exclude them from all conversations and communications.

I’m trying

When someone says “I’m trying,” that typically means they’re not—or at least they’re not trying hard enough. For example, if your roommate tells you that he or she is trying to remember to unload the dishwasher, but then never sets a reminder or actually starts to unload the dishwasher, how convinced are you they it will get done?

Saying that you’re trying to something has the net effect of accomplishing nothing. If someone really is trying or trying hard enough, they’ll say that they’re doing or working on something already. In the example, your roommate or spouse might instead say, “I’m unloading it now,” or “I set an alarm to help me remember to do it.” They’re taking action, and you have faith that it will get done.

I’m doing the best I can

When someone says to you, “I’m doing the best I can,” you probably wonder, “Are they really?” Chances are they aren’t. You typically hear this reply when you work with customer service agents at some big box stores or cable service providers to resolve an issue. It’s clear that those agents aren’t doing their best to help. It often feels like they’re doing their worst! That explains why those types of companies have one-star customer reviews. Don’t ever claim to be doing your best; if you are, people feel it, and if you aren’t, then do better.

It is what it is

This is probably the most hopeless statement known to mankind. Something undesirable happens, and people accept it with the phrase, “It is what it is.” In business, you hear it when someone has done a poor job and feels so incapable of doing better (or unmotivated to do so) that they are willing to accept (and expect you to expect) a low-quality result. If you ever feel that way, don’t give up hope. Find a way to do better and get motivated. Do what it takes to deliver great results.

It’s not my fault

As a company representative, even if you’re not the cause of a problem or issue, never say, “It’s not my fault.” Focus instead on taking actions that resolve the issue. No one cares whose fault it is; they just want a solution.

This post presents just a few examples of phrases we should eliminate from our conversations; but there are many others. How do you know what phrases to do away with? In general, if you say something that abdicates responsibility for your results or has a negative tone, then consider excluding it. Stay positive and show a can-do attitude in all you say.

What phrases do you use that maybe you shouldn’t? Are you working on getting rid of them from your conversations?

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