4 Magic Words to Improve Conversations

By Alex McClafferty

Choose your words wisely and you can save time, improve relationships and spark creativity.

Words are powerful, but often misused.

In this post, I’ll share four words to help you rapidly improve your conversations.

“Specifically”

The word specifically is kryptonite to jargon, buzzwords, and loose language.

You’re time-poor. Instead of dreading the next meeting that has no agenda, ask the organizer what specifically will be achieved from the discussion.

You can also use specifically to give feedback, challenge ambiguous statements, and drill down into the cause of a disagreement.

“No”

We’re wired to please people and default to yes instead of no.

Let’s say someone offers you an exciting opportunity, but you know in your heart that it’s not an ideal fit or the timing is wrong. Trust your instinct and be upfront by saying no, and then give a brief explanation of why it doesn’t work now and express your gratitude for the opportunity.

If you want to introduce no to your quiver and uncover the psychology of the word, read this introductory post by James Altucher–he wrote an entire book on the subject.

“What if…”

Kim Nicol, an attorney turned meditation and mindfulness coach, introduced me to this simple framework.

For example:

  • What if… I could find an investor for my startup?
  • What if… I could offer the best service in the world?
  • What if… I could believe in myself and take this idea all the way?

This phrase is great when you’re working through the “figuring it out” stage that we all find ourselves in.

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