• 23rd April 2007 - By proteman

    Want to lose credibilty really fast? Talk in extremes.

    Here’s an example. I was just reading a white paper on performance management. I was engaged and thinking “this is really good stuff.” Then I came across this sentence:

    “Training never provides managers with the practical tools they need to set clear objectives with their teams.”

    What’s wrong with the word “never”?

    Subconsciously, the word just begs to be refuted. As soon as I see or hear an “extreme” word like never (or always, or nobody), I immediately try to think of a contradiction. (Perhaps this is my contrarian nature…am I the only one who thinks this way?)

    There are very few things in life that are absolute, so words like “never”, “always” or “nobody” should be used cautiously and sparingly. When you do use them, be aware that other people may, like me, question your credibility and become distracted.

    Here are some scenarios that demonstrate credibility-damaging extreme talking, and alternative statements that give speakers more credibility.

    Scenario 1:

    Salesperson says: “We’ve never had an unhappy customer.”
    Customer thinks:
    “Oh really…I don’t believe you. NEVER?”


    Salesperson says: “Our customer surveys show that they’re are happy with our work. We score a 9.5 out of a possible 10 average.”

    Scenario 2:

    Manager says: “Remember that the customer is always right.”
    New customer service rep thinks: “Gimme a break!”


    Manager says: “Even if we disagree with customers, we must still be
    respectful and try to make them happy.”

    Scenario 3: (During a product development meeting)

    Team member: “Nobody will ever use that technology!”
    Rest of team:
    “We can think of lots of people who WOULD!”


    Team member: “I’m sure there will be some customers who would adopt this technology. My concern is that there won’t be enough volume, and the price point won’t be high enough, to justify our investment.”

    © 2006 The Loyalty Group. All Rights Reserved.

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