February 2016

A few recent encounters has made me think a bit more about words; particularly words that are frankly offensive if you are looking to be successful in business, and life. Below are a few of the most offensive:

As in, “We can’t do that” or “You can’t expect us to meet that deadline.” Your customers come to you because they think you can do what they ask. If you truly cannot produce what they’re asking for, be honest but then help them find someone who can, even if it’s your competition. They’ll remember that you went the extra mile to make them happy.

“I’m too busy to do that now” or “I’ll call you when I’m not so busy.” The last thing customers want to know is that they rank at the bottom of the food chain. It is acceptable to say that you will need a few days to do the job right or that you’ll knock off a few bucks in exchange for their patience. It is never OK to imply that they aren’t as important as other customers.

“This project is such a bore” or “Don’t bore me with the details.” Unemployment is boring. Try to find something to love about every job or project. Otherwise, find a job you love. Life is too short to be bored or boring.

“We’ve done it the same way for years” or “Same old, same old.” If you’ve been doing something the same way for years, it’s a good sign you’re doing it the wrong way. People change. Technologies change. Your customers aren’t asking you to dye your hair purple. But their businesses change, and they’re looking to you to follow (or lead).

“Let’s play it safe.” Safe is important in baseball, but in business you must be prepared to take risks. The scary part about taking risks is that they don’t always work, but I’ll take a good calculated risk any day over the boring, same, safe way. Sometimes, it’s risky not to take a risk.

There is never, ever an excuse to be rude to a co-worker, customer or a stranger. You’re staking your name on your behavior, and you don’t want that to become a four-letter word.

Your lawyer should be mean. Your tennis serve might be mean. You can’t afford to be. Your customers’ business and referrals determine where your kids go to college and how your retirement will be. If that doesn’t make you nice, I don’t know what will.

“That isn’t my job.” Maybe your job description doesn’t include every last chore that’s required to finish a project, but someone has to do those things. You need to take your turn. Along the way, you just might find yourself becoming invaluable. Never pass up the chance to do something new just because you think you’re too good.

“I fear that we may be moving too fast” or “My biggest fear is that we can’t do this” only demonstrate one fact: you haven’t done your homework. Common sense, thorough research and sound advice should allay your fears to a reasonable level. Knowing what is acceptable risk should help, too. Take charge.

“Nice guys finish last.” I consider myself a nice guy, and I hate to finish last. But I’ve had to lose a few times to win the next round. I’ve learned something from every last-place finish.

What do you think? Do you have some not so good 4-Letter business words you can add to the list?

Joe Bouch
A Full Service Advertising Agency in Orlando, Florida