Which would you rather hear: “I can’t do that until…” or “I can certainly have that for you on…

Perception is reality, and your language shapes it!

Your customers are under enough stress already. If you want to win clients’ and candidates’ hearts and minds, your service needs to take away their stress – not add to it. So, make a concerted effort to use positive language in your customer communications. Here’s how:

Steer clear of trigger phrases.

Certain words and phrases trigger the release of stress-producing hormones when your customers read or hear them. These hormones change brain function and impair both logic and communication. Who knew, right? To frame a conversation positively, minimize the use of these phrases, especially when things get stressful.

Take, for example, the phrase “I don’t know.” If you were a client, calling to find out when you’d have candidates to interview, how would you like to hear “I don’t know” from a recruiter? Would it instill confidence in the recruiter’s ability – or tick you off?

Now, there will certainly be times you don’t have an answer or solution at the ready – and that’s okay. If you don’t, however, show some empathy and demonstrate your commitment to finding the answer or solution. Instead of saying, “I don’t know,” try, “That’s a great question. Let me find that out for you right now.”

Other common trigger phrases include:

  • “I can’t”
  • “You didn’t tell me”
  • “You need to”

Skip the fauxpology.

Phrases like: “I’m sorry if you are offended,” “I’m sorry you feel that way” and “Mistakes were made” may be easier for you to say, but they’re really not apologies. Think through your wording before you speak, and remove any hint of defensiveness from your tone. Even if you’re not the one at fault, there’s a smarter way to apologize to a customer.

Flip negative language.

Similar to the first tip in this post, flipping negative language to positive can dramatically improve communications with your clients and candidates. Saying things nicely reduces customers’ defensiveness and frustration, while building their confidence in your abilities:

  • Instead of “Don’t contact me until…” try “Feel free to contact me after…”
  • Instead of “I can’t…” try “I can, if (insert qualifying conditions)”
  • Instead of “Don’t rush to…” try “If you take it slowly…”
  • Instead of “We won’t…” try “We’d be happy to, if (insert qualifying conditions)”
  • And my personal favorite, instead of “no, but…” try ” yes, and (insert qualifying conditions)”

The ripple effect of saying things nicely

Like any habit, using positive customer service language (even when things get stressful) takes time and practice. But the benefits extend far beyond customer service. For example, one great “side effect” of practicing positive customer service language is that it trains your brain to think differently. In time, those positive thinking habits will take hold in other areas, too – leading to stronger relationships, better results and a more optimistic outlook in all aspects of your life.

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