At Horton Group, we believe in positive, beneficial communication, both within our project management team and in communicating with web design clients. When both parties engage in respectful, persuasive communication, we are able to achieve a mutually developed, middle ground solution. The best way that we have found to create cooperative relationships is through fostering a positive sentiment. People may forget precisely what you say or do, but they will remember the way that you make them feel.

This requires some conversational finesse. According to Karen Purves, M.A., there are specific key words that can undermine the effectiveness and positivity of your conversations, leaving the receiver with a negative feeling about you and your persuasion as a whole. However, you can create subtle differences in your conversational word choice that instantly make people feel more positive and cooperative with you. Here are a few we’ve honed in on at Horton:

1. Thank you. –> Thank you for
In her seminar, Communicate with Strength: Key Words that Undermine your Effectiveness, Purves points out that 80% of people will not specifically remember if you only say, Thank you. Instead, if you say, Thank you for and qualify what action you appreciated, your kind words will not only be remembered, but the receiver will also perceive you as more intelligent and credible.

2. Cant –> Can
People don’t want to know what you can’t do for them. It instantly fosters negativity. Thus, when someone says, I need to see you with the web design mock ups this Tuesday, your answer should not be, Oh, I can’t do Tuesday, Instead, immediately respond with a positive alternative that you can do, such as, I can do Wednesday afternoon, if that can work for you. In this way, the receiver will perceive that you are trying to help them, rather than not being able to fulfill his/her needs.

3. This person does not understand. –> I should do a better job at explaining.
There are going to be instances when a message receiver just does not understand what you are telling them. Instead of becoming frustrated at what may appear to be their ineptitude, focus the responsibility on yourself and strive to better explain what you mean. Let them know that you are understanding about the situation by saying, Sorry. Let me do a better job of explaining.

4. Disagreement –> Question
In all persuasive negotiations, there are going to be times when both parties do not exactly agree. In these instances, instead of adamantly defending your position or getting angry, turn your defensiveness into a question. Ask, What are your reasons for that? This question will both dissolve the negativity and lead to greater mutual understanding.

5. Should –> Could
People enjoy taking action when they feel that it is self-motivated. If you tell people what they should be doing, it makes them feel as if they did not have a personal choice in the matter. Yet, if you voice what they could do in a given situation, it offers up an option that they may then choose to act out. This one simple word change creates a much less aggressive suggestion.

– Ashley Drinnon

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