Everybody likes Sam, but it can be frustrating talking to him. In response to every idea and every question, he always starts the sentence with “No.” Even if he agrees, the response starts with “No” such as “No, you’re right.” It’s not that Sam’s being disagreeable, but it’s just the way he talks.
Sam’s a great guy, but until you get to know him, this “starting with ‘No’” habit makes him come across as negative. There’s a local radio personality that does this, too – whenever I hear his voice and that first “No,” I turn the station.
We often say that – until people really get to know us – they judge us largely by our body language and tone. And if you have a habit of saying something repeatedly that brings a negative vibe to the conversation, they’ll judge you by that phrase as well.
So be aware of and intentional about the words you use, but also keep in mind that we need to work toward positive conversations with others, and much of the positive/negative direction you go in conversations is based on the questions you ask.
Don’t ask the co-worker “Would you mind doing this for me?” If you do so, you’re forcing those that are willing to help to tell you “No, I don’t mind.” Instead ask “Could you please do this for me?”
Don’t ask the customers “Would it be an issue if I put you on hold for two minutes?” Again, you’re forcing the considerate customer to say “No.” Instead ask “Could you please hold for no more than two minutes while I investigate this for you?”
Remember, most people don’t like engaging with negative individuals, developing relationships with negative companies, or being asked questions that force them to respond No, No, No.
To add a positive tone to conversations, ask questions that elicit a ‘Yes.’
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