Try rephrasing it

Quite a while back now I was listening to one of the many, many podcasts I have queued on my phone.  It talked about how we should rephrase things in order to elicit a different response.  My overriding take away from it was to rephrase a question by using the word “would”, rather than “could” when asking someone to do something for you.  By using “could you…” may suggest you doubt the person’s ability to do the task adequately, or even at all.  It may also give them the option to say “I could, but…” and then give excuses/reasons why they won’t do it. Starting the request with “would you…” tends to get a more positive response because it doesn’t challenge their ability to do it, and gives less of an opportunity to give you a reason why they wouldn’t, which would probably be harder for them to justify. This is one thing that I always make a conscious point of doing.

My boss also told me something last week that I hadn’t really paid too much attention to previously.  The overuse of the word “that” particularly in formal writing. For example, “where something needs more explanation so that it can be more easily understood”.  Take out the word “that” and it doesn’t lose its meaning but reduced word count, particularly where word counts are important.

Others suggest we should drop using are phrases like “I don’t get it” instead use “help me understand”. Don’t use phrases such as “Does this make sense?” and “You know what I mean?”  as it suggests you need constant validation.  Drop the “ah, um, er..” cut out pointless filler words, take the time to formulate what you want to say before starting to say it. “it was like”, “she is like” This one is a pet hate of mine.  I hate the way “like” has to be inserted in modern parlance. 

We should stop making excuses for procrastinating “I’ve been so busy” or “I started the email but forgot to send it”.  By not doing something we should have, we have probably inconvenienced someone else.  Stop making excuses for why you haven’t done it.  Apologies and deliver whatever it was. We should also stop generalising “they always….” It lacks insight and we should avoid blaming tactics. 

Buzz words are also a cringe worthy pastime.  We’ve all sat in a meeting where someone has suggested we ought to “think outside of the box” or “push the envelope”, or we are invited to “circle back”. Let’s be honest, how many of us have actually played Buzzword Bingo.  I know I have.


One thought on “Try rephrasing it

  1. ‘Going forward’ is one of my pet hates in management speak. And ‘no problem’ by sales or service staff. Of course its no problem, it’s your job!


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