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Modified: Wednesday, Feb 19th, 2014

Although most of our communication occurs through our body language and vocal tone, the actual words we use are important, too. They reveal our class, education, expertise and attention to detail.

Sometimes they do more than that. They trigger emotions in the listener, which can be positive or negative. Understanding and using the right trigger words, versus the wrong ones, puts you miles ahead of the competition when it comes to communication. This applies whether youíre dealing with kids, spouses, bosses, employees, or friends.

Negative triggers point out the problems between you and me. Most contractions are negative triggers. People donít want to hear canít, donít, wonít, and shouldnít, have to or should. No is also a negative trigger. Policies and rules are trigger words that anger people because theyíre not usually written for the customer. Words like blame, fault, bad and problem round out my group of favorite negatives.

†Positive triggers are more cooperative and include words like we, us, our and together. Social niceties like greetings, goodbye, please and thanks fall into this category. Yes, OK, understand and help are always positive. My other favorite positive triggers include solve, guide, fix, serve, and offer.

Letís look at a few examples from customer service:

ē Instead of telling them you canít give them a refund because of policy, just tell them what you can do;

ē Instead of telling them you donít know the soup of the day, ask them to give you a second to find out;

ē Instead of telling them they have to be transferred, offer to put them in touch with someone who can help;

ē†Instead of referring to it as your problem, act as if itís our challenge, and together, we can face it.

Put others at ease by choosing positive words, and youíll find them a lot easier to deal with.

Chris Waugh is a business consultant who focuses on management and professional development. Visit ChrisWaugh.com or Facebook.com/ChrisWaughOnTheFly for more information.

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