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Stop Saying This! Now!

If you’ve spent any time with me, you know I love words. I love using them well, and using just the right one. I also write and speak often about the power of words, catch phrases, and all that good stuff. So every now and then it takes some reflection to realize I’m making some big mistakes when it comes to words. Maybe it’s because I feel so careful about the words I use that when I realize I’ve been careless it surprises me. Either way, here are two words you should stop using right away!

“that’s easy”

How often do you find yourself saying them? Are you like me? Do they roll off your tongue so fast and so often that you can’t even remember the last time you said it? I mean to say that it’s no problem, or that I can get on that right away, but I’m saying more. And here’s why I think you need to remove it from your vocabulary.

1. It’s Not Universally True

Here’s what’s true: the things that are easy for you may not be easy for everyone else. Not all things are easy to everyone. When you say it, there’s a good chance that to someone listening, they could react in the opposite way that you intend. Instead of having them feel confident in you, they can feel slighted. That alone may be reason enough to rid the phrase from your every day speech.

2. You could be Wrong

If you are a consultant or an advisor in any field, you already know how important it is to manage expectations. Now imagine that what you thought was easy suddenly isn’t because you misunderstood something or you’re only now seeing the complexity that was hidden before. If you’re committed to managing your interactions with people, it’s a lot better if you hold back from bold declarations like, ‘that’s easy.’

3. It Stops Thought

Years ago I read an interesting study about teachers in the classroom. They discovered that when they asked a question and had kids raise their hands to give answers, there were more and less effective ways to collect answers. If they called on a child and the answer was right, they could either a) say “yes, you’re right” or b) say, “thanks for that answer, does anyone have another?” Right away you can guess which helped students think up more ideas, be more creative and push themselves harder. Yup – answer B. Because when teachers declared that one student was right, they told everyone else that they could stop thinking. The same is true if I declare that something’s easy – it tells people to stop thinking about nuances, challenges, ways to solve those challenges and more. Who wants that?

So tell me, what phrases have backfired on you?

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