A while back I listed 59 Ways to Agree with Your Customer, enumerating 23 words and 36 phrases that help you build rapport and trust with your prospects and customers. However, one phrase was conspicuously absent from that list. And while it’s a phrase that salespeople, professionals, managers and CEO’s use frequently, it actually does more harm than good.
We use this simple phrase a lot because it seems to communicate agreement. Unfortunately, it communicates other messages as well. Messages that are contrary to our intentions.
Words and phrases have subtexts. The subtext to a phrase like “I understand,” “That’s true” or “You’re right” is:
• “I’ve heard what you’ve said.”
• “I care what you have to say.”
• “I’m in agreement with you.”
• “Your point, idea or feeling is valid.”
• “You’re smart.”
It’s the subtext that communicates your acknowledgement, support and empathy. Which in turn causes the other person to feel understood and valued.
By contrast, the subtext to “I know” is:
• “I already knew that.”
• “I’m way ahead of you.”
• “I’m smarter than you.”
• “You’re not telling me anything useful.”
• “What you’re saying has no value.”
• “You’re wasting my time.”
In this case, the subtext causes the person to feel unimportant, thus shutting down communication.
Of course we don’t intend to communicate those negative messages when we say “I know”—but that’s the subtextual baggage that comes along with the phrase.
So work to eliminate the phrase “I know” from your vocabulary. Whether you’re dealing with prospects, customers, subordinates, bosses, friends or family members, substitute the words and phrases from the above-mentioned list of 59 suggestions.
When you use the right words, your ability to connect, communicate and influence increases significantly. Agree?