How to Avoid the F*** Word
Having a hard time communicating with your boss? Or trying to find common language with extremely annoying colleagues? Or maybe dealing with a difficult customer or partner? It's not always that easy to stay calm and sound polite, especially when you have to speak a foreign language. But there is always a way out. Here are some pieces of advice…
1. Listen, or at least show that you are listening
If you show other people that you are listening to them they will be more willing to listen to you and accept your opinion. Don't just say “I disagree”, show them you are listening before you explain your opinion. You can do this by using statements like:
I see what you mean, however…
I agree up to a certain point, although…
2. Avoid negative words – use negative form instead
People react to positive sounding words, even if they are used with a negative auxiliary verb.
Don't say: I think that's a bad idea.
Say: I don't think that's such a good idea.
3. Say the magic word: Sorry
This word can be used in so many different ways: to interrupt, to apologize, to show you don't understand, to disagree etc.
Sorry, but could I just say something here?
Sorry, but I don't really agree.
Sorry, but I think that's out of the question.
4. Avoid the word ‘you'
This is too direct and aggressive. Better put the focus on ‘I' or ‘we'.
Don't say: You don't understand me.
Say: Perhaps I'm not making myself clear.
Don't say: You didn't explain this point.
Say: I didn't quite understand this point.
Don't say: You need to give us a better price.
Say: We're looking for a better price.
5. Use little words to soften your statements
Some little words like really, quite, possibly, perhaps etc. can also be truly called magic. They really do the trick.
Don't say: I don't like it.
Say: I don't really like it, I'm afraid.
Don't say: We need to talk about it.
Say: Perhaps we should talk about it.
Don't say: I didn't catch that.
Say: Sorry, I didn't quite catch that.
Now, all in all, let's see how we can paraphrase and sound more polite.
Here are some examples:
I'm afraid there will be a small delay, instead of There will be a delay
It seems we have a slight problem, instead of There is a problem
That will be very expensive, instead of That won't be cheap
To be honest, I'm not sure we can do that, instead of We can't do that
I see what you mean, but I think there might be an issue here, instead of I disagree
Keep those little words and tricks in mind, and they will come in handy, that's for sure. That will really help you to sound more diplomatic, even if you really tend to be rude. Politeness doesn't cost you anything. Besides, it can be really easy!