If you want to avoid jeopardizing your influence, you need to eliminate these phrases, which I hear every week during client calls, meetings and presentations.

1.  I’ll try.  What you’re really saying is, “I’m not going to get this done.”  A “yes” or “no” response followed by the reason for your decision communicates your professionalism and willingness to give sincere thought to the action you will take.

2.  I don’t have time to prepare.  You don’t have time to not prepare for your meeting, presentation, sales pitch, face-to-face or virtual conversations.  The next time you fall into this negative mindset, take a closer look at how important the conversation is for your brand and reputation.  When you take this critical step of examining your reputation, you will find time to prepare.

3.  If I knew my topic, I would be more effective.  True influence occurs Monday to Monday.  Most of our conversations are impromptu or off the cuff.  Commit to being effective during all conversations.  Influence is not only determined by how much you know but also by how effective you can communicate your knowledge.

4. Yes, but… The word “but” can feel like a slap in the face to your listener.  Think before you drop this word.  Make sure “but” doesn’t negate everything else you just said.  Be especially cautious where you place “but” when answering questions.  During Q&A, “but” can encourage your questioner to throw you a curve ball or get frustrated.  When in doubt, replace “but” with a pause or “and.”

To increase your awareness of the phrases you may be using that are jeopardizing your influence, take on this challenge for one month:

  • Ask someone you can trust to let you know when you use these phrases or others that diminish your influence.
  • Write on a Post-it® note the phrases that undermine your influence.  Place this Post-it® note somewhere you will see it daily.
  • Audio record challenging phone conversations (you only need to record your side of the conversation). Listen to the playback immediately afterward to identify words and phrases you can eliminate.

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