Words have power. And while many words have the power to help you make the sale, some words have the power to sabotage it. If you want to increase your sales, here are nine words you should avoid using with prospects and customers.

1. “No”
People hate to hear no. They love to hear yes. So whenever you’re tempted to say no to someone, stop and think how you might be able to yes to their request. This is not to say you should give away the store. Rather, look for ways to make things happen instead of automatically justifying why you can’t.

2. “Can’t”
Speaking of “can’t,” this is another word that can anger and frustrate prospects and customers. Instead of dwelling on what you can’t do, focus on what you can do. Provide options and alternatives. Remember, you’re there to assist and serve your customers.

3. “Policy”
Here’s a news flash: I don’t care what your policy is. I only care about what I want and need. If you can deliver that, you’ve got me as a customer. If you quote “policy” as the reason you “can’t” do something, you’ve lost me. Probably forever. (See What’s More Important: Your Policies or Your Customers?)

4. “Don’t”
The human brain can only process a negative by thinking of the positive. Which means, when you tell your prospect “Don’t judge a product by price alone,” what they really hear (on a sub-conscious level) is “Judge a product by price alone.” When you say “Don’t worry,” they hear “Worry.” Tell your prospect or customer what you want them to do, not what you don’t want them to do.

5. “But”
The word “but” negates whatever came before it. (“You did a good job, but…”) Replace it with either a simple pause or the word “and.”

6. “Why”
Questions that start with “why” sound accusatory and judgmental. (“Why did you do that?” Why do you think that?” “Why is that important to you?”) As a result, they cause prospects and customers to raise their defenses. Instead, rephrase “why” questions into “what” or “how” questions. (“What caused you to do that?” “How did you come to think that?” “What’s the reason that’s important to you?”)

7. “Honestly”
Whenever you use the word “honestly,” you imply that some or all of the other things you’ve said have not been honest. Strike the word from your vocabulary. The same goes for words like “truthfully” and “frankly.”

8. Any Term of Endearment
While words like “buddy,” “pal,” “baby” and “sweetheart” are fine with your close friends, they’re not okay to use with prospects or customers (unless you know them very well and they call you by similar nicknames). You should always be polite, courteous and respectful. The best thing you can call a customer is their name.

9. Profanity
I shouldn’t even have to mention this. I’m astounded, though, how often I hear salespeople swear. If you’re looking for a sure-fire way to offend a current or potential customer, this is it. Never chance it. You’re not a stand-up comic in a nightclub. You’re a sales professional. Speak accordingly.

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