Dangerous Words

If you start listening to the words people are using, you may discover that a lot of what we say contains dangerous words. What are those words? Consider words such as:

Absolute, never, ever. But. You! Why? Try. Must, have to, should. Can.

What causes these words to be dangerous? I will give you examples and explanations to make you understand why they work against us. The words “ABSOLUTE, NEVER, and EVER” cut off further discussions and can come across very harsh. They are not opening up for solutions, and they stop creative thinking.

Imagine your boss has just praised you for a job well done. The next word you hear is “BUT”. What does it do to you? It simply deletes all the good things you have just been told. What can we do instead? Replace the word “but” (and words with the same meaning like “however”) with “and”. It works wonders! We often need to tell people that what they are doing is not working or is not the best way to do it. In a course I attended about presentation skills, we all had evaluation straight after the presentation. I still remember one teacher saying: “What you did first was excellent etc., AND may I invite you to make it even better by …..” – It made a lot of difference that “BUT” was replaced with AND.

YOU! If you add a pointing finger at a person while saying “YOU!”, it can be felt by the receiving person as a threat. Instead make use of questions like “What happened? What made you react like that?”

WHY? When we use this short word, the receiver may get angry and come up with all sorts of excuses. Instead ask: “Please explain to me …..”

TRY. If you asked me: “Try to lift the pencil on the desk”, I can try and it is still lying there. I really tried, but I did not do it. If you had asked me: “Lift the pencil!” then there is no doubt what action I am asked to perform, and I will do it. When we use the word TRY, it makes us feel that we are going to do something, we are trying, but if it does not succeed (whatever we are TRYING), it gives us an excuse if we fail. Avoid the word TRY, instead DO IT!

MUST, HAVE TO, SHOULD are words that often give the feeling of having to do something that I really don’t want to do. For example, I don’t want to carry out the garbage bin. Instead of giving yourself negative feelings about a task, say to yourself: “I choose to…”. This way, you feel you have the freedom, because you could also NOT do it. We always have a choice, and what we choose will bring about a result.

CAN you help me with this? The answer might be: “Yes, I can”, and nothing happens. If we ask: “Would you help me with this?” we ask for a commitment, and it may produce a far better response.

Listen to the words you are using. Change your dangerous words to safe words that will give you great results and make life easier for you and the person you are talking to.

I am wondering how much you will enjoy your new “choices”!

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