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The Sykes Group
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Tel: 757-427-7032
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Verbal Faux Pas ?The Words You Use Can Empower or Confuse
By Joy Fisher-Sykes

Imagine you�re attending a conference and you can�t wait to hear the keynote speaker. During the session, you find the speaker to be both entertaining and inspiring. In fact, you can�t wait to put what you hear into practice. Then it happens�out of nowhere, you hear these dreaded words, �Let me be honest with you.? Immediately your attention is distracted as you ponder the meaning of these words. Perhaps you say to yourself, �Have you been dishonest with me up to now? Should I believe a word you say going forward??/font>

Time and time again I hear people matter-of-factly use words or phrases that distract, detract, and deflate their message. Is it any wonder their message is misunderstood or not well received? When we choose to use verbal faux pas, instead of communicating clarity and confidence, we create confusion and mistrust.

The following is a list of the most common verbal faux pas to banish from your vocabulary:

  1. �Let me be honest with you?/b>
    (Common variations include �To tell you the truth,?and �To be frank with you.?

    Translation: Dishonest Communication. This phrase implies that, up to now, you�ve been deceitful or haven�t been completely honest-that, in some way, you�ve been holding back.

    Powerful Choice: Avoid this verbal distraction, and you�ll keep your audience focused on your message.
  1. �Kinda,?�Sorta,?�Wanta?/b>
    (Example- �It�s kinda hard to share my feelings with her.?br>
    Translation: Uncertainty. These words express your uncertainty and inability to communicate your thoughts. (�I know what I want to say, I just don�t know how to express it.? When we communicate, we need to always ensure that we convey a clear message-don�t waste words.

    Powerful Choice: Communicate clearly by not using these words. A stronger message is, �It is difficult for me to express my feelings to her because she interrupts me often.? This clearer message clearly and accurately conveys your thought.

  1. �I�ll try.?/b>

    Translation: Non-commitment. How often have your heard someone say, �I�ll try to give you a call next week.? Nine times out of ten this will never happen. Why? Because the word try offers you an out which says you�re not committed to doing or seeing an action through. So when we say we�ll try, what we are really saying is, �Maybe I will ?maybe I won�t. I�ll give it a shot, maybe, and if I don�t follow through or fail, don�t hold me to it.? In life you don�t try�either you do or you don�t.

    Powerful Choice: Better to eliminate use of this word. Speak in the active tense and convey that you are working towards something. �I will call you by Wednesday to set up a luncheon date.?

  1. �I have to��

    Translation: Powerlessness. It�s been said that the only thing we have to do in life is die and pay taxes. Well, this is only partly true, because there are many people who choose not to do the latter. In life, we always have a choice ?there is nothing we have to do. We may feel compelled to do something because of our values, sense of obligation or duty. Ultimately, choice is in your hands and saying �I have to�� implies that you have turned complete control of your life over to others. You are dependent upon others to make choices for you. And should those choices fail to turn out well, you have a built in excuse to say, �See what she did to me!?

    Powerful Choice: Use the active voice of �I will,?�I need to,?or �I am?in place of �I have to.? This communicates your intention and conditions and lets your conscious and unconscious mind support you in your quest.

  1. �You know?or �You know what I mean?/b>

    Translation: Confusion

    This phase seems common by even the most seasoned speakers, TV personalities, and celebrities. The phrase implies, �It�s obvious what I�m trying to say. I shouldn�t have to say any more-you know what I mean. Can�t you read my mind?? For many, the first thought is, �No I don�t know what you mean, please tell me.? �You know?is a speech filler which gives the speaker time to think about what to say next.

    Powerful Choice: Keep your message concise by eliminating the use of this phrase. Pause instead, and you�ll avoid this speech distraction and add clarity to your message.

In order to communicate powerfully, we need to be selective about the words we choose to use. Your words can either confuse or clearly state your message. Banish these verbal faux pas from your vocabulary, and you�ll reap the benefits of powerful communication that results in less confusion and more confidence.

Suggested reading:

Explain Yourself! The Reason Why Excuses Sabotage Your Success

Common Courtesy Isn�t So Common ?10 Telephone Blunders in Everyday Business

Verbal Faux Pas ?The Words You Use Can Empower or Confuse

Bite Your Tongue! 10 Ways to Be an Effective Listener

Five Secrets to �Thinking on Your Feet?/font>

Ten Quick Tips for Outstanding Presentations

Dr. Seuss's "The Cat in the Hat" Will Help You Get Your Point Across! (Yes you can, here's the plan!)

How to Set Boundaries and Say No 

Five Secrets to Showing Your Customers You Really Care: Creating Empathy

Check Yourself for Outstanding Customer Service

Leave Your "Buts" Behind for Great Customer Service

Ten Customer Service Secrets to Win Back Customers

Getting Back to Basics: A Customer Service Tale

Show Your Customers You Care

Want to learn how to communicate with authority? Our Master Your Attitude, Team Building, Life After Downsizing, How to Develop the Leader Within You, and How to Say No and Achieve More programs can help you lead others to the next level.  Also read our articles on motivation, goal setting, etc. Call us at 757-427-7032 or e-mail us at info@thesykesgrp.com.

Joy Fisher-Sykes is a professional speaker published in the areas of communication, time  management, and teamwork. She works with business and government organizations who want to reach the next level of success and individuals who want to perform at their best. You can email her at jfsykes@thesykesgrp.com, call her at (757) 427-7032 or visit his Web site at www.thesykesgrp.com.

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