If you are a career-oriented individual than you probably have spent your entire life working hard to succeed. You went to a good college, built a perfect resume, took exam upon exam in order to add multipleletters to the end of your name such as CFA, CPA, DDS, MD, MBA, ESQ …. And yet with all that education and skill development you won’t get anywhere without the ability to properly communicate who you are and what you stand for? Most people don’t spend nearly enough time honing their communication skills, my clients are the exception. My clients hire me to help make their communication more powerful. In working with numerous clients, I have found that sentence structure and wording can make a major difference in the way you are perceived by others. Below are a list of 5 commonly used phrases that can make you sound like an amateur.
Phrase #1: “I like working with people.”
The content of this phrase is great. You want people to know that you are a team player and can collaborate with others. The problem is that “I like working with people” sounds very young and in the professional world young can be perceived as amateur i.e. lacking in experienced. How about you try sending the same message with this phrase?
“I thrive in a collaborative environment.”
Phrase #2: “I know how to (add a skill or task that you have here e.g. sell corporate bond, value a company, build an app)”
Sure you have told me what you know how to do but you haven’t told me if you are good at it? How do you amp up this phrase? Try this:
“I specialize in_____” or “My expertise is in ________”
Phrase #3: “I work in (add industry or job function)”
You are probably scratching your head on this one. Why would such a basic and commonly used phrase make me seem like an amateur? “I work in” could mean that you are the lowest member in that field or job function. When you are introducing yourself its best to describe yourself as the professional that you are. So instead of “I work in…” try:
“I am a professional (e.g. VP of strategic development, financial professional, executive marketer…))”
Phrase #4: “Can you help me with?”
Asking for help is often difficult for successful professionals. Many people fear that they might ask a question that they should already know the answer to. Starting your question with the phrase “Can you help me” often makes asking a quesiton more difficult as it puts you in a position of need. Instead try phrasing your question differently:
“I would like to inquire about…”
“I am researching this topic and want to learn more”
“I have some basic knowledge of ______, but would like to learn more. Could you please explain….to me”
Phrase #5: “This is awesome” or “I am insanely excited”
I must admit that I am guilty of using this phrase too much in a professional setting. Often times, I am so energized by my work that I can’t help but use phrases reminiscent of those used by high school cheerleaders. How do you show enthusiasm while maintaining a level of professionalism? Try this:
“I can tell that you put a lot of work into this – great job”
“Your idea is very powerful”
“This will be a great addition to our…”
“I am so enthusiastic about this project”
It might seem insignificant but I promise you that small changes in your vocabulary and phrase structure can transform how you are perceived in the business world.