It seems as though communication in business should be an easy concept to understand and quite straightforward. A customer asks a question and receives a response from the owner or employee. An employee has a question or offers an opinion to the owner and expects a reply. Unfortunately, the response may not adequately answer the question. It is deflected with negative phrases that do little to motivate the customer into making a purchase or returning to repeat the buying experience. A negative response to an employee, or worse no response, is one of the best ways to demotivate a potentially excellent employee.
One negative phrase can “turn off” a customer or employee, but with a slight change of words the phrase can become positive. When the right words are used, they encourage customers to purchase, become loyal, and act as goodwill ambassadors for the business. Likewise, when words are chosen wisely, employees become committed to being a part of a growing and successful business.
Phrases that motivate do not necessarily come without practice. The starting point is having a positive attitude. To solidify strong relationships, certain phrases should never be in a business vocabulary. Make sure your business dictionary has omitted these:
1. “We can’t do that.”
What a negative response! Maybe something can be done with the right attitude. Few things are impossible. In fact, with the right attitude, it is amazing what can be accomplished. What to say instead: “We’ll see if we can do that.”
2. “We’ll get to it later.”
Procrastination is never a remedy in business; it is nothing more than a delay tactic. Satisfied customers and loyal employees are not interested in waiting. When dealing with their concerns, they want someone to have a sense of urgency in handling their situation. What to say instead: “We’ll take care of that ASAP.”
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3. “It’s not that important.”
To a customer or employee, their needs are very important! The most important customer or employee a business has is the one they are dealing with at the present time. What to say instead: “I certainly understand the importance of this.”
4. “Why so many questions?”
Yes, we all know that some people ask many more questions than others, but they still need answers. If they’re asking a question, it’s important for them to receive an answer. What to say instead: “I’m happy to answer your questions.”
5. “Why doesn’t he take his business elsewhere?”
This is just the attitude a business owner never wants from his employees! Rather than helping to build a long-term sustainable, successful business, this attitude does just the opposite. What to say instead: “We’re thankful for all business.” After all, business pays the bills and creates jobs! With communication, it’s about being positive or negative. On one end of the spectrum, communication can be negative and little or nothing gets accomplished. Customers go to the competition, and employees leave for other jobs. On the other end of the spectrum, communication can be positive. Customers return and employees are loyal. Often the difference between being positive or negative can simply be the choice of words.
Make responses work for you!
Take negative phrases out of your business vocabulary—now! Make sure your employees get the message as well. Positive responses come with practice. It never hurts to do a little role-playing during employee training, so when an actual situation occurs there is an automatic, positive response. When the right words are used, you will see a big difference in customer and employee attitudes and reactions. Why waste the energy on negative phrases when positive ones take the same amount of effort but produce much greater results?
About Richard Weinberger
Richard L. Weinberger, PhD, CPA has over 30 years experience as a financial and management consultant dealing exclusively with small businesses. Dr. Weinberger currently serves in the capacity as the Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Accredited Small Business Consultants. In addition to his business experience, Dr. Weinberger has been a full-time and adjunct professor. He holds a PhD degree in organization and management, an MBA in management, a BBA in marketing, and a BBA degree cum laude in accounting. He is also the author of the best selling book Propel Your Small Business to Success: Accelerated Actions to Maximize Profit.