Words Matter: Phrases and words to avoid using when speaking to customers

Post image for Words Matter: Phrases and words to avoid using when speaking to customers

by Tom Watson on August 30, 2015

How you converse with people will go a long ways towards how successful you will be. The better you are, the further you’ll go.

This doesn’t mean you need to have a PhD of some kind to succeed, but every single word you say DOES MATTER on some level. Small combinations of simple sounding words can be interpreted in any number of ways.

In a worst case scenario, a poor choice of words can paint you (and by default, your company) as unprofessional. So if you drift too far into sounding like you are “not ready for prime time”, you simply won’t get hired. It’s that simple.

Every single word MATTERS on some level

Sometimes a word, just a single word, can be interpreted in a way you didn’t intend. Take for example the word “chemical”. I bet you used that word a million times when speaking to people. Maybe you’ve told a customer “I have a cleaning CHEMICAL that will remove that spot off the floor”. Sounds innocent, but to some it sounds SCARY.

How? Think of it from the customers point of view (ESPECIALLY if they have kids). The word chemical can very easily create anxiety for someone who worries about their kids health, even their own. Do you think a word such as SOLUTION would be better? I do! So instead say… “I have a cleaning SOLUTION that will remove that spot off the floor”. Sounds less scary to me!

Now not every word is “scary”, but some word choices make you come across as “less polished”. In some ways people can sound “sloppy” in a sense when speaking, as they use words that are just too common. Here are some examples…

Consider these other words, and the better alternative:

Common word = Dirty: the better word would be SOILED.

Common word = Rag: The better word would be TOWEL.

Common word = Suck: The better word would be EXTRACT.

See how one word can make a difference in HOW PROFESSIONAL you come across? As I mentioned earlier, every word matters on some level.

Common “phrases” can also hurt your brand

OK… you now know that individual words matter. But now we move on to PHRASES. These are even more powerful in a sense because by definition they are A COMBINATION OF WORDS. So if just one word can make a difference, an entire set of them strung together is even more dangerous in some cases.

Now many of these examples will sound like “small talk” when speaking to customers. We all have our unique ways of speaking and that is just fine. But some things we say can EASILY be interpreted to mean something completely differently FROM THE CUSTOMERS VIEWPOINT. Here are some examples.

What people “blurt out” in conversation and what the customer “thinks when hearing it”:

You say: “I’m really tired today”. They hear: “Oh, just PERFECT. This person was partying all night and won’t do a good job”.

You say: “Sorry I’m late. I’m running behind today”. They hear: “Just my luck, now they will RUSH THROUGH MY JOB to get back on schedule”.

You say: “Hopefully this will work”. They hear: “I don’t know what I’m doing so I’ll just EXPERIMENT”.

The moral of this post is to get you to think about the way you speak to the customer. Will these suggestions make you successful and wealthy, not in and of themselves, BUT THEY DO MATTER. Remember… the customer is always KEEPING SCORE when dealing with contractors. The CONTRACTOR that scores the highest WINS (that means GETS HIRED). So take advantage of every little thing you can, the more the better!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Binda Kebohula August 30, 2015 at 4:45 pm

You are right Tom one has to be careful in conversations especially to potential customers that one is not all that familiar with.

2 Suzanna Watson August 30, 2015 at 6:25 pm

Thanks Binda!

3 Pauline Ila November 8, 2015 at 9:26 pm

Hi Tom,

Very helpful notes and I very much appreciate it. I will build from up from here.


4 Tom Watson November 8, 2015 at 9:54 pm

Hi Pauline! I’m happy to help.

5 Carlos A. January 26, 2016 at 7:16 pm

thank you very much, very helpful.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: