I have a mentor who continues to drive into me the power of language. When used effectively it is incredibly impactful. So, I’m reading more often, writing more often, listening and watching how others use language to engage and influence. What I’ve noticed is that as a society, we also use a lot of catchphrases. If you say any of these, please stop in 2012 – appealing to your logical self interest next to each one:

1. “Let’s Partner!” – What does that mean really? Instead ask for sample partnerships which have produced great results for both sides and course a map to make them successful because they work with you!

2. “I meant to…” – And then what happened? Did a better offer or a more interesting person, project, email come across your radar and you completely forgot about them? Be more intentional in the tasks and relationships you focus on and choose to invest in, in 2012.

3. “I’m sorry you feel that way…” – No you don’t. If you feel sorry, just apologize and quit sugar coating it. Not enough candor in our business relationships. We tell people what they want to hear vs. what they need to hear. I’d rather you tell me how you really feel in 2012 as I suspect, so do a lot of others!

4. “I’m not here to make friends…” – I’ve never seen this actually help the person saying it! You may not care if they like you, but you’ll need them to respect you if you want them to buy from you; not just products or services, but your ideas, projects, and priorities in 2012!

5. “It’s a win-win…” – Like a “merger of equals,” there is no such thing; they hear “I’m going to win, you’ll lose, but you won’t know it until I’m long gone, when you’ll lose again!” Stop already. Focus on gaining and delivering conceptual agreement on objectives, measures and value to both sides!

6. “Here is what you should do…” – Unsolicited advice is just that – unsolicited. Many people don’t want you to fix it or tell them how to fix it. They just want you to listen. Try listening more than you speak in 2012!

7. “Cheers, ciao, adiós,…” – You’re not British, Italian, or Spanish – it’s English. “Goodbye, see you soon, bye for now” all suffice for US-based professional communications. As my good friend and Emory classmate, David Heltebran pointed out, it is appropriate in your communication if you’re working with colleagues or partners in those countries as it demonstrates your flexibility or willingness to learn, grow and expand your horizons.

8. “I’m a good multitasker…” – No you really aren’t. None of us are and when I hear you typing on the other side of our call, you’re clearly NOT listening to me! Do less with fewer people but become more centered, intentional, and focused in your interactions with them in 2012.

9. “You’re Wrong!” – This is a personal challenge for me (since I’m so shy and quiet!!). Healthy disagreements make you interesting to debate. Dismissing others entirely make you look arrogant and pompous! Even though you may be right, the way you engage, challenge, or try to influence them to think differently (vs. trying to persuade them!) will make a huge difference in 2012.

10. “I know. That’s like when I…” – When others are telling their story, don’t try to outdo them. One-man-up-ship is so 1980s and it’s unbecoming, as is interrupting others! In 2012, focus on collecting great stories told by others vs. constantly being the life of the party with your stories!

Bonus: “But, however,…” – Nothing good ever comes after but and however is a polite way of saying but! Stop it!

Happy New Year,
David

p.s. I’m launching 5 unique channels to engage, influence, and sometimes, even provoke you! In the process, I hope to add value in how you think about and choose to invest in your most valuable, strategic relationships – on or offline in 2012. Learn more and subscribe HERE.

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