Small Words; Huge Impact

by Betty Lochner on January 31, 2012

Most of us are guilty of small communication habits that get in the way of effective communication. Without thinking, we respond in ways that close off communication by making the other person feel like we aren’t listening, that we disagree with them, or that puts off a negative tone.

Here are some small and easy word choices you can make that will have a huge impact.

I Understand

When you respond to communication with the first two words being ‘I understand,’ you will disarm 80% of any negative or resistant energy right there and then. Those two words make people feel heard and understood, and will pave the way for better communication.

Even if you don’t understand, say, “Can you clarify that for me just a little bit more?”

Replace “But” with “And”

To avoid making someone feel like you are negating what they are saying, try replacing your “but” with an “and.”

Instead of “Yeah, I see what you’re saying, but …”,try, “Yeah, I hear what you’re saying, and here’s something else I was thinking about addition to that.”

Use “We” More

Using “we” instead of “I” or “You” is a way to help us to connect and identify with others while also distinguishing our point of view. This can avoid making the other person feel like they’re being criticized or putting them on the defense.

Instead of saying, “You have a way to go, say, “We have a way to go.”

Replacing our small word choices takes a little bit of practice.  Pay attention to what you are saying and make some simple word changes for better communication results.




Betty Lochner

Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home.  She is also the director of Washington’s 529 Prepaid Tuition Program.To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit:

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