I’m in the lucky position of having a career that involves interacting with lots of people in the daily basis. Through talking with some very interesting and smart people, I have picked up a couple of great tips. Today I want to talk about two of them: the creative power of “you’re right” and the destructive one from “but”.
Creative Power of “You’re Right”
My very first corporate job right after finishing my undergrad degree was at a major food retailer in Germany. Their culture was all about getting things right.
Get the ordering right.
Get the shipping right.
Get the pricing right.
Yet, the most often choice of words for managers was “you’re wrong”. At the districts that I got assigned to, whenever the managers walked around near an employee, you could see how the employees would physically start to get nervous and sweat. Most conversations would start with “you’re wrong, this is not how this is done” or “you cannot keep on making these mistakes”.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing about taking corrective action. However, the employees from this food retailer are among the most hardest working individuals that I have ever met. If all feedback you dish out is always negative, you are just going to create resentment.
Focus on what’s done and start conversations with “you’re right” more often. You can immediately feel how disarming is this statement for people talking with you.
Their ears perk up and you can see how their body language expresses attention and respect. Try it not only at work, but also at work.
Destructive Power of “But”
If “you’re right” has the power of creating rapport, “but” has the power to annihilate it. This is one of my top 3 most hated phrases. A “but” is a word that presents a contrast or, as I would like to say, destroys everything else that you built on a previous statement.
You are a great worker but I need you to do more.
You met our agreed target of 10% but the manager wants you to do 12%.
I understand what you are saying but there is nothing that I can do.
You deserve a raise but I cannot give it to you.
Nothing good comes out from a “but”, especially if you start off with a compliment. Don’t use compliments and “buts” on the same phrase! You are not only delivering bad news but also discrediting those compliments.
Start using “you’re right” more often and avoiding “but” as much as possible.
What are your favorite creative power words?