3 phrases you should remove from your conversations

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Have you ever had a conversation or discussion with someone else and for some reason you find the other party grating on your nerves? Not because of the topic of discussion but just how he is expressing his thoughts and ideas. It just seems so abrasive. I have been in quite a number of such situations. But I remind myself to look beyond how it is being said and focus on the intention of his message and try to reach the outcome of the discussion as quickly as I can.

Recently, I decided to figure out what are some phrases that people tend to use that rubs me the wrong way. It would be a good reminder for myself, and possibly for you too, to remove them from our vocabulary.

1. “Like I told you before …”

Variants of this include, “As I have said…” and “Let me repeat..”, among others.

These expressions imply that the other person has not been paying attention to what you have said or that he is not sharp enough to catch it.

What we need to realise is that in any interaction, nobody really remembers 100 percent of what anyone says. On top of that, what may be an important point to you may not be interpreted as such by others. Everyone filter, process and make meaning of messages differently.

A lot of times, the listener may mentally delete a piece of information that you have communicated. It would be as good as you not having said it at all. It’s not their fault. It is how our brain works. Don't blame them. Let it go.

The way around it is to take full responsibility for your messages. If you are making an important point, say so with expressions like, “This is important…” “I need you to remember this…”

So the next time you find that your colleague seems to have not heard or understood the points you made in a discussion, don't get worked up. Just repeat the point, but this time, repeat it in a way that he/she will understand.

2. "I don’t mind."

A: Would you like to go hiking this weekend? You: I don’t mind.

When you are asked to do something, and you reply with "I don’t mind", you come across as being not all that interested in hiking. It's like you would rather do something else if you had a choice. It will not make person A feel good.

A better response would be a simple yes. Even if you rather not hike, keep that thought to yourself. The other person is asking for your company. Show some appreciation.

3. "It shouldn’t be a problem."

This is a common expression heard in work situations here in Singapore. You ask if the delivery will arrive on time. The other party says, "It shouldn’t be a problem".

I have asked others on why people say this. Apparently, this expression comes loaded with the clause that problems could arise in completing the said task, but the person saying it thinks that, in this instance, they are unlikely to happen.

If that is the case, then why not just say yes? And maybe extend it with "I will do my best to make it happen".

A: Can you get it done by tomorrow? B: Yes, I will do my best. Compare with, B: It shouldn’t be a problem.

Which of B's response sounds more impactful?

Remember Murphy’s Law. Any and all tasks come with the possibility of something going wrong. Hedging yourself against them doesn't quite inspire other's confidence in you. And it doesn't help with your professional presence either.

Point to note is that a lot of our habitual conversational phrases may be doing us harm. They could irritate others, induce conflict or affect our influence without us realising. So let's always be checking ourselves.