“Schnell!” How one word or phrase can change perception

I got to know Konrad, the night desk clerk at the Sydney, Australia Four Seasons hotel pretty well, because I used to get up at 5 a.m. to run, then drink a bottle of water in the lobby and chat with him for awhile.  Konrad was Swiss, spoke several languages, and was a friendly, polite young man.

Early one Saturday morning my colleague Ken and I were checking out of the hotel to fly home and Konrad waited on us.  When he went down to the other end of the lobby to get Ken’s receipt from the printer, Ken remembered he wanted to ask Konrad for something else.  He turned to me and asked, “What’s that guy’s name again?”

I said, “His name is Schnell.”

So Ken yelled down to Konrad, “Schnell!”

Konrad was far too professional to give Ken an angry look for being told in German to hurry the hell up, so the rest of the transaction went without incident and soon we were in the cab on the way to the airport, where I explained to Ken the trick I had just played on him. What a great colleague I am!

Funny how just one word can alter an entire conversation in any context, whether it’s a practical joke, a discussion on a light topic, or a sales presentation.  When I hear someone make an unfortunate word choice I often wonder if the person realized the effect the nuance of the word may have had on his listener.

These errors don’t generally occur in sales conversations, as professional salespeople tend to be very careful in word choices.  But where many salespeople slip up is in the use of “filler phrases” that mean absolutely nothing, but are inserted into presentations because the speaker thinks they “sound” right, or make the speaker seem more articulate, when in fact the opposite is true.

You might listen to your own conversation or ask a colleague to give you feedback if you tend to do this.  Here are some of the worst I hear:

“When all is said and done”

“At the end of the day”

“That being said”

“I said it before and I’ll say it again”

“All things considered”

“Be that as it may”

“My bad”

“It is what it is”

I could go on here.  The sarcastic “Really?” seems to have had its run, but “yada yada yada” persists.

The difficulty is that if any of these phrases are a habit for you, you might not realize the effect they have on those who hear them nor see their mental eye-rolling.  Listen for them and work on getting them out of your everyday speech, like, now.  You know what I mean?

What are some of the filler words or phrases that annoy you? I just listed a few but I’ll bet you have some that are pet peeves. Let me hear from you.

Oh, one more thing. Just so you don’t think I left the hotel situation as it was, when I returned to Sydney I apologized to Konrad for Ken’s rude behavior.

Boston Marathon excuse!

I’m running the Boston Marathon on Monday, then on the road for the rest of the week, so I won’t post again until Friday.  Until next time,

Think Like Your Customer

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About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

One Response to “Schnell!” How one word or phrase can change perception

  1. Chris Morris says:

    Schnell on Monday!

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