12 Most Powerful Words in Business

12 Most Powerful Words in Business

Office conference rooms, cubicles, corner offices and common areas are crammed with business jargon that dulls imaginations and saps creativity.

Many powerful words for business have nary a thing to do, directly, with industry.

1. Why

Polite push back can temper group think. Ask why “things have always been done that way.” Or ask why it didn’t work the last time you tried it.

2. Show

People like proof. They want to see things with their own eyes. It’s human nature. So, in trying to reach and win over customers, clients, colleagues or management show your ideas with examples. Draw an analogy, give an anecdote, paint a picture. Help them see what you see. Show them, and they’ll be far more likely to get it and get on board.

3. Goof

Trying something that didn’t work, as long as it wasn’t impulsively foolish, dangerous or illegal, can be regarded as the trial run or first draft.

4. Reflect

Breathe, pause and collect yourself before you send an email while angry or take a criticism too personally or speak when emotion is clouding your judgment. The repair work required after colleagues lash out is wasteful, unproductive and inefficient.

5. Do

Sure, market testing and focus groups have their place. But business success takes action and plenty of “do.”

6. Listen

Hearing is a function. Listening is a skill. It takes practice. But it yields immeasurable dividends. Extra points if you listen, consider alternative options, critical feedback and adjust course because of it.

7. Learn

The staggering pace of growth in social media shows how essential it is to learn all through life. Learning can mean formal training, of course. But learning also happens by staying nimble enough to act when opportunities appear.

8. Open

Being open to change, open to being wrong, open-minded and open to new possibilities can lead to new products, new clients, new markets and entirely new ways of doing business.

9. Respect

Civility eases differences among humans. When I was an editorial writer, my colleagues and I would gather each morning to discuss the official position the Cleveland Plain Dealer would take on the most controversial topics of the day. Politics, religion, social issues… you name it. It worked well largely because the group was civil and respectful. And our boss was an awesome leader who made sure the discussions stayed that way.

10. Lead

Leading is much more powerful than managing. Think about it: you manage problems. You manage bills. Or you manage just to cope! Leading, on the other hand, is nuanced, customized and inspired.

11. Fail

Fear of failing keeps people from doing all sorts of things: piping up at a meeting with an idea, starting a business or taking other risks. Failing is really an inevitable part of taking risks. And taking risks is an inevitable part of a strong business. For more on this topic, you may be interested in my post 12 Most Inspiring Fails to Make in Your Career.

12. Regroup

After failing, it’s important to learn what when wrong and how to do it better next time. This is the true secret of missteps. Through the lessons learned in the aftermath, greatness can emerge.

So, how’s that for out of the box? Those are the ones I nominate. Which ones would you suggest?

Featured image courtesy of CarbonNYC licensed via Creative Commons.

Becky Gaylord

http://www.gaylordllc.com

Becky worked as a reporter for more than 15 years in Washington, D.C.; Sydney, Australia; and Cleveland, Ohio for major publications including the New York Times, Salon.com, Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, and was Associate Editor of the Plain Dealer's Editorial Page before she launched the consulting practice, Gaylord LLC. The company helps clients improve their external relations and communication and increase their influence and impact. Becky blogs about that (a few other things) at Framing What Works.

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39 comments
DSPREL
DSPREL

@jinasongwm Thank you for the RT: 12 most powerful words in business

AnnTran_
AnnTran_

@beckygaylord You're welcome Becky.

theresamax
theresamax

@BeckyGaylord @anntran_ @gmtomko @pegfitzpatrick Your very welcome!

PegFitzpatrick
PegFitzpatrick

@AnnTran_ Thanks for sharing Ann! Hope you are well and having a lovely night!

dbvickery
dbvickery

Great list, Becky. Good organizations need people asking "Why" to become great organizations...as long as the "why" doesn't become a paralyzing obstacle to progress. That is why you need #5, #7, #10 -> and a healthy dose of #11!

BeckyGaylord
BeckyGaylord

@tbonegallagher Thank you so much for the RT of the #12most blog post. Right back you with a follow! Happy Monday.

Michelle_Mazur
Michelle_Mazur

What strikes me most about this post is that none of these words are jargon! I hear so much jargon in business. What's the ROI? We are going to leverage the strategic insights, etc. etc. The most powerful words are not jargon that spew from the mouths of executives but simple action words. 

BeckyGaylord
BeckyGaylord

Yep, those are great additions, Bruce. I didn't use please or thank you, either, on this list. And clearly those are very, very powerful.

BruceSallan
BruceSallan

I'll add a few more...

 

My bad...

 

No worries

 

I'm sorry

 

Okay, two words each! lol...

milguy23
milguy23

@danielnewmanUV 8 worst job email words? 'Do not respond to this email - Auto Reply.' #ick

Michael Roby
Michael Roby

Good stuff - love it! Have been using a 12 words list for years from Yale. 12 Most Persuasive Words.

CKConcept
CKConcept

@tamcdonald Thanks for sharing, Tim!

ds_meyer
ds_meyer

@BrandFlair @12Most Nice post, can't believe "Please" & "Thank you" didn't make the list (even though technically thank you is two words:).

Lauren M Hug
Lauren M Hug

Great list! Coming from a research background, Number 5 is personally hard for me. I want to exhaust all avenues and have all the info before acting. But, as you pointed out, sometimes you have to "do."



Number 1 is my bread and butter. ""Why?" is the first question I ask my clients when helping them with communications projects. I'm always surprised at how often the question is met with blank stares or casually dismissed. If you don't know why you are giving a presentation, how are you supposed to know what to say and how to say it? If you don't know why you are having a meeting, what's the point of having a meeting at all?  Once the question is answered, it's almost magical how quickly pieces can fall into place.

AliRichards15
AliRichards15

Great, and not what I expected which was even better! I always ask three questions, what is the purpose, whats the value and what is it? Only when those are answered should we move ahead in business. 

MichelleAgner
MichelleAgner

Loved this, Becky. Funny how the most powerful words in business are just as powerful in all areas of life. Especially #6 & #12! 

brasonja
brasonja

@terrinakamura Thank you Terri, wish you a successful new week :)

AnnTran_
AnnTran_

@pegfitzpatrick All is well. Another beautiful day here : ) Good to see you pop up in my stream : )

BeckyGaylord
BeckyGaylord

 @dbvickery Thanks, Brian. And you're right, you need to take the list as a group to get the balance right -- sometimes you need more of some and less than others. Depends on the circumstance. 

BeckyGaylord
BeckyGaylord

@Lauren M Hug Yes, I also find clients can often talk about a product or products they think they need (a website, social media presence, print marketing materials, and so on) but hesitate or even struggle to articulate "why." I'm with you that this question is one that drives the whole purpose of a project: Ceating a solution to the question "why" is the ultimate purpose of the work. It will help determine which products to develop to achieve that. Asking why can also be translated, in my opinion, as starting at the end and working backwards. Thanks so much for the thoughtful comments, Lauren. -Becky

BeckyGaylord
BeckyGaylord

 @MichelleAgner Thank you, Michelle. And I think you're right: they are just as powerful in most spheres where we humans interact...we just sometimes need to remind ourselves of that. (I do, at least!)

-Becky

PegFitzpatrick
PegFitzpatrick

@AnnTran_ It was beautiful here today too! I really missed the sunshine!

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