Unfortunately is More Than a Word

Unfortunately! It’s more than a word, it’s a signal. It’s a signal that whatever follows is sure to be bad. When you’re on the phone with a customer service representative the last thing you want to hear is the dreaded “unfortunately.” You know full well that shortly after unfortunately you’re going to hear the even more dreaded “can’t.”

 

Never tell someone what you can’t do, tell them what you can do. For example, if a friend asks you to help them move on Friday but you can only help them on Saturday then don’t say I can’t help on Friday but I can on Saturday. Just say you can help on Saturday. The psychological difference is huge.

 

“Can’t” gets burned into their memory… You become the person or company who can’t. We think differently about people who can’t and we certainly don’t buy from or do business with people who can’t. 

 

Think about every time you’ve heard the word unfortunately. How many times has it been followed with “you’ve won the lottery?” I’m betting not once!

 

There are a lot of words we would be better off just leaving out of our vocabulary; but, never, and always are just a few. Unfortunately is another one. 

 

Unfortunately is like chewing on an old dirty sock, it may not kill you but it sure leaves a bad taste in your mouth. 

 

If you are in any type of customer service role…I shouldn’t have to say this but somehow I fill compelled; if you are in business or work for a business, regardless of your title, role or job description, YOU DO HAVE A CUSTOMER SERVICE ROLE… do everything you can to avoid using the word unfortunately. 

 

No matter how positive the statement is that you make after using that unfortunate word it will seem like a negative to the person on the receiving end. 


Fortunately with a little forethought you can almost entirely eliminate unfortunately from your vocabulary.  Choices matter, even the choice of the words we use each day. Choose well!

Words do Matter

I loved being a salesperson. To me it was great fun, often rewarding and almost always very profitable. When I was offered my first sales manager position I just assumed that would be even more fun.

I didn’t receive much coaching (okay, I received no coaching) on what being a manager entailed so I just kept doing pretty much what I was doing before. I also kept talking pretty much as I did before.

I was completely unaware that being in a leadership position meant my choice of words was now somehow more important. They carried more weight. It mattered more not only what I said but how I said it. It really really mattered who I said it to.

If I have struggled with one thing throughout my entire career it is understanding that fact.

The fact that words matter. The fact that when you’re in a leadership role or higher profile position, your words matter even more.

If you’ve earned the opportunity to influence others by leading then you need to understand that also means you have an obligation to do so in a responsible manner. I know full well what a challenge that can be, after all, you’re still just you. Why should your words matter more? Your role in the organization may have changed but you haven’t.

You need to get over yourself and accept the fact that choosing your words carefully is one of the sacrifices (if it’s even a sacrifice) true leaders willingly make. You can’t just say you’re a leader and you can’t just act like a leader, you need to BE a leader.

I don’t think I need to go into great detail here about why your words matter. Pretty much everyone knows that words matter; they know they can be hurt by words and they know that they can be lifted up by words too. The trouble starts when you apply those truths to other people’s words but not yours own.

If you are a leader then here is a leadership fact that you must always keep in mind: not only do your words matter, they matter more than most people’s because you’re a leader.

If you want to improve your leadership then improve your choice of words!