Qualifiers. They’re an easy to crutch to lean on in the office. Whether you want to pitch an off-the-wall idea or shoot down someone’s suggestion without seeming brutal, many of us think that prefacing a statement with a softer introduction can help us to save face or soften the blow.
So, here are four common qualifiers that you can easily find yourself saying over and over again at work. Does this mean that you can absolutely never let one of these phrases fly out of your mouth? Definitely not.
However, if you catch yourself starting nearly every other sentence with one of them? You might want to rein it in a little bit.
1. “That’s a great point, but…”
You’re in a meeting when a colleague makes a suggestion — a suggestion that you don’t agree with. But, before just rejecting his idea entirely, you think it’s smarter to halfheartedly acknowledge the value of his contribution before launching into the reasons why it’s really not the way to go.
Your desire to be courteous is admirable. However, this phrase is so over-said it’s practically ignored altogether anyway — people are always just waiting for that inevitable “but…”.
So, skip this qualifier and just make your point instead. It’ll lead to a more direct and productive discussion.
2. “This is probably a bad idea…”
When you’re pitching an idea that’s half-baked or are offering some insight in an area where you don’t consider yourself an expert, it’s tempting to rely on a qualifier like this to immediately acknowledge the fact that you’re not trying to act like a know-it all.
However, starting your suggestion with this really only undermines your confidence and shoots down your contribution before you’ve even gotten it out of your mouth.
Rather than relying on this phrase, make your pitch and then ask for thoughts and input. It’ll send the message that you’re not viewing your idea as set in stone and are open to feedback — without making you look like you’re lacking confidence.
3. “Just so you know…”
You have something to say. But, you feel like coming right out and just saying it is too aggressive and forward. So, you preface it with a friendly qualifier like, “Just so you know…” or even a more passive aggressive, “In case you were wondering…”
But, these phrases are unnecessary — it’s already understood that you’re sharing that point because the other person needs to know it.
Just say what you mean and skip the unneeded padding. Your message will be much clearer without it.
4. “It appears that…”
“It appears that our sales numbers have dipped in this first quarter…”
Chances are, you’ve heard and said a phrase similar to this before. But, when you take a look at it, isn’t it somewhat misleading? Do sales numbers only appear to have dipped, or have they actually taken a nosedive?
Do your best to stay away from qualifiers like these that only serve to make your message mushy and noncommittal. They aren’t doing you any favors.
Qualifiers are an easy conversational habit to rely on. But, in most cases, they only detract from what you’re saying. Keep them to a minimum, and you’re sure to be a more effective communicator.