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Words Matter: So Mind Your Ps and Qs

March 02, 2018
By Paula Bernier - Executive Editor, TMC


There’s a great Jerry Seinfeld bit about the word choices of kids vs. adults.




When you’re young, the comedian says, everything is up. Wait up. Shut up. “Mom, I’ll clean up. Let me stay up!”

Parents are just the opposite, he notes. They say things like calm down, slow down, put that down.

I don’t have the delivery of Jerry Seinfeld, I know. But, my point is that words matter. And it can be easy to fall into a habit of using negative words. We often do this without even realizing it.

That’s not good for us and those around us. And it’s not good for business either.

People, especially those in customer service, should take the time to analyze their own word choices. Rather than focusing on what’s not possible, emphasize the positive. For example, instead of saying: “We can’t do this today.” Say: “I’ll get this to you first thing Monday.”

Recording and analyzing call center interactions can help identify less-than-ideal language use by agents. And it provides the opportunity for agents and their managers to understand and improve upon that.

This may seem like a minor thing. But, positive language and a can-do attitude make for a better customer experience. And it can even change how you feel.

Morteza Dehghani says “there are various social psychology research findings that show that the mere exposure to positive words or negative words can change your mood.”  He runs the Computational Social Science Laboratory at USC Dornsife

And, in 2017, scientist Cindy Mason in suggested in Psychology Today that positive speech can be an important tool to promote good health. And she points to a study indicating that Twitter (News - Alert) (News - Alert)language patterns “are a significant predictor of age adjusted mortality in artherosclerotic heart disease.”




Edited by Mandi Nowitz



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