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Just The Tip: 10 Phrases You Need to Eighty-Six From Client Emails…FOREVER.

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Everybody worries about being nice these days.

We tiptoe around our own words, soften everything we say, and generally ask permission to have our own opinion.

But unfortunately, nice isn’t a selling point. People do business with competent people, with smart people, with successfully branded people, with interesting people, with creative people, and with people whom they think can help them get ahead.

They do not do business with nice people.

Not if that’s all you’re bringing to the table, anyway.

If anyone ever describes me or my company as ‘nice,’ I’m instantly offended. If that’s the best descriptor they can think of, I’m doing something very wrong. When you want people to think of you or your business, you want convictive words to come to mind—not generic, thoughtless, prefabricated general blanket statement words that describe somebody’s grandmother. I’d rather be called a revolting sorry excuse for a woman than “nice.” (Yesterday, I had a Costa Rican friend over who, upon discovering I did not own a rice cooker, looked at me like I just told her I had cancer. So “revolting sorry excuse for a woman” is probably not that far off.)

In fact, being too nice can lose you business.

Because in the never-ending quest to be liked, we end up using words that lose us respect. And then we’ve gone and managed to sabotage EVERYTHING, because you can’t like someone you don’t respect. Not on any meaningful level, any way. But you certainly can respect someone you don’t like.

So when you’ve got something difficult to say, always go with the sentence that will earn you respect—not the Nice Person Of The Year Award, (that for the record, doesn’t even come with trophy, let alone a gift certificate to Taco Bell). In order to do that, we need to nix some phrases from your vocabulary. Phrases that are usually said in an attempt to be accommodating and, you guessed it, nice—but that end up backfiring by making you sound less confident than you are.

And if you don’t have confidence in yourself, then why would anyone else have confidence in you?

Here are ten phrases I want you to nix, ban, evict, banish and otherwise eighty-six out of your client emails—forever.

I’m wondering if…

I just sort of…

I kind of…

I could be wrong, but…

This is just a thought I’m having…

In my opinion…

Sorry to bother you…

I have one little question…

Maybe we could…

You might not like this idea but…

You might be tempted to hedge around the issue, but think about those passive phrases as sheets of limp, lukewarm rotting lettuce in a delicious steak salad: they might add substance and make you feel like you’re doing the right thing–because who doesn’t feel smug as fuck after eating a salad–but it’s all just filler that detracts from the main event.

Be blunt. Be direct. Be the director. Because when you project that confidence on a huge pull-down screen that spans the lower 18 stories of the Empire State Building, clients’ll be sprinting down Broadway to beat down your door, (and belt out a little Aretha Franklin, R-E-S-P-E-C-T style).

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96 thoughts on "Just The Tip: 10 Phrases You Need to Eighty-Six From Client Emails…FOREVER."

  1. Kristin White says:

    I need to put the kibosh on ‘We’… when really I mean ‘I’…. as in ‘We have this fabulous idea / We did all this work / We know how to change the world…. ‘ Uggghhh, some folks are so great at self-promotion, not in an obnoxious way but in a, ‘let’s be real, I’m awesome’ way. I’m jealous of such folks.

  2. Sideshow Bob says:

    Just caught myself in the act with another one. “I’ll try to look through my files…”. VOMIT.

    Another from one of my superiors and many of my inferiors lately is “I should be able to”.

    FFS. I or YOU either WILL or WON’T. Anything in between is nothing but right royal codswallop.

  3. Kate Love says:

    I could be wrong, but… I’m pretty sure you’re a douchebag feels like it might have a place in relation to some of the total asshats over at Twitter responding to #YesAllWomen and #EachEveryWomen hashtags.

  4. Elizadeath says:

    I’ve been guilty of many a “I think,” “I was wondering,” and “Just.” I work with a team of guys and I’m learning how to drop the passive crap from my vocabulary to stay afloat.