Talking to People: Your Tone

As we continue to discuss how to effectively build relationships with Clients and Prospects (and really everyone you talk to), let’s talk about always keeping a positive tone.

Using a positive tone keeps you in the forefront of people’s minds as someone they WANT to talk to because you are always showing them something positive – ie. That they want or like.

I see people mess this up all the time, usually by using language that unintentionally puts people on the defensive because it accusing or jabbing at them somehow. They don’t even realize they are doing it and I’m going to talk about how to avoid it.

I made a video about this, which you can watch below, or you can just scroll down and keep reading.

Let’s discuss a few examples. These particularly irritate me.

“You lost me.”

Have you ever heard this? When someone doesn’t understand what someone else is saying, they say, “you lost me.” Communication is a two way street. It almost always requires some back and forth in order for both parties to understand each other. When you say, “You lost me,” whether you mean to or not, you’ve just communicated to the person you are speaking to and trying to build rapport with that they have done their job poorly and they need to try again. Why send that message? Use it as an opportunity to better understand the person and their perspective.

Instead try something like this:

“Mike, I don’t understand this point. Could you help me understand this better?”

Now, you have opened the channels of communication for both of you to begin a dialogue and better understand each other! Now we’re building relationships.

Just don’t use language that makes it seem like there is something “wrong.” There really is very little “right” or “wrong”. It’s a giant gray area. Instead, use what appears as a disagreement to better understand the persons perspective, concerns, wants and needs. If this is a prospect, understanding how they think about their situation will be invaluable in your ability to provide value to them and ultimately, sell stuff to them!

Let’s look at another example. The word “but.” I completely eliminated this word from my vocabulary a long

Talking to Clients and Prospects Your Tone

time ago. The way we use “but” is almost always negative in it’s tone. Here are two examples that state the same thing but one says it in a much more positive and uplifting way.

“That looks great Gary, but you need to make the margins wider.”


“That looks great Gary, and making the margins wider would make it even better.”

The first statement created a problem, the second statement created an opportunity. Two totally different ways to handle the exact same situation that also has two very different outcomes.

Side Note: Once you understand how these things work, you may still use them, but differently. You will actually use them when you have lost control and are TRYING to make it a conflict situation!

Here’s the big objection that many will have with this.

“But Jeff, I don’t want to appear weak or look like I don’t understand something.”

Get over it.

You don’t know or understand everything! Nobody expects you to and asking questions doesn’t make you look weak or ignorant. The most brilliant minds are as brilliant as they are because they asked so many questions and have such a diverse understanding and perspective.

So, when communicating with clients and prospects, remember these three things, to turn each conversation into an opportunity to build a relationship:

1)The language you use is either building up or tearing down your relationship. Choose your words carefully.

2)Every conversation is an opportunity to learn more about the client or prospect you are talking to, so never disagree, only seek to understand.

3)Nobody is no right or wrong. It’s your job to get to the heart of each party’s perspective and understanding of the situation.

Image Credit: Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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