Lose These 5 Phrases That Are Killing Your Business

We’ve all said them. But for the sake of your business, lose these “killer” phrases today.

By Cheryl Snapp Conner

They’re the bane of business communication – the inelegant expressions sales and service experts call “killer words.” They’re the bloopers that divert customers and prospects away from the message you are trying to convey.

These are common expressions we use every day. So what should you do? The solution is easier said than done: Just stop it. Practice eliminating these poisonous words from your vocabulary.

These five expressions (plus a few inglorious runner-ups) are the worst of the worst. If you care about your business and customers, you’ll promise to shed these phrases today:

1. “No Problem.”

This sounds polite, but the customer is actually thinking, “When did I become a problem?” We can thank our helpful restaurant servers, especially on cruises, for this one. When we take a cruise and ask for anything at all, what’s the first thing the waiter says? “No problem!”

On a cruise the vernacular might be okay, but back home the right responses should be: “Of course.” “You’re welcome.” “My pleasure.” “I’m happy to help.”

Any of these options express your willingness to help. But “no problem” is a conversation killer you are best to avoid.

2. “Our computers are so slow.”

Yeah, it’s an excuse. And while everybody’s computer runs slow at least once in awhile, when you complain about your computer, you appear to be complaining about your company, too. You are inadvertently reinforcing the customer’s complaint.

Take the time to be humorous, or strike a conversation like this: “While my computer brings this up, how’s the rest of your day going?” Ask a question that shows your genuine interest and let the customer talk.

3. “Calm Down.”

Yes, this makes the hair on the back of everyone’s neck stand up. It is condescending. When someone is told to “calm down,” invariably their next words are, “Don’t you tell me to calm down!”

There are times when the client may need to vent. Your job is to listen and validate at the appropriate times with empathetic expressions and wording.

Telling a customer how to handle their emotions as if they were your four-year-old child, however, is a terrible plan.

4. “It’s not our policy.”

Every company has policies. But blurting this out as if it’s a roadblock is a bad way to go.

Think about rephrasing the policy in a gentler and more positive way. “Because we’re privately held, we can’t discuss our forecast for [new product revisions, shipping forecasts, etc.] in advance. But here’s what we can do: Can I take down your name? Or can I offer you this alternative as an interim upgrade?”

When there’s rejection involved, state it gently and frame it in the context of easing the customer’s discomfort. They will love you for this.

Or perhaps you could say, “Normally we’re not able to allow last minute changes. But let me see what I can possibly do.”

The policy is the same, but now you’re a hero.

5. “Yes, but…”

When there’s a “but” involved, the customer knows a negative rebuttal is coming.

If you’ve ever said, “I love working with you so much, but…” There’s a condition coming, isn’t there? Consider this alternative instead. “Yes, we can ship that extra package. There is, however, an additional fee. Do you want me to send it for you?”

And, for advanced credit, here are three runner-up expressions you should also avoid:

6. “Can I be honest with you?”

“No, go ahead and lie to me,” the customer is thinking in dismay. Psychologists note that people who are chronically saying things like, “I won’t lie to you,” “to be perfectly honest,” etc., are generally the people who most notoriously lie. The buffer expressions are a psychological “tell” they are using as a subconscious subterfuge to keep others from observing the truth. But it doesn’t work.

7. “What was your name again?”

“It’s the same as it was the last time I said it 20 seconds ago,” the customer is thinking. Aren’t you listening?”

If you really must ask again, do so with a genuine apology as you look the individual straight in the eye. And make a concerted effort to pay more attention, particularly where names are concerned.

8. “You don’t understand what I’m saying.”

Blaming the customer for your lack of clarity will never go well. Instead, perhaps, “Let me say that another way, and thanks for your patience.” Much better.

So the next time you catch yourself or any of your staff in these objectionable phrases, take the time to stop, re-frame and rephrase. Your customers (and your profitability) will thank you.

My thanks to customer service expert Nancy Friedman for her suggestion of the “eight great” phrases above.

Original article


Cheryl is a faculty member of CEO Space; you’ll have ample opportunity to dine with Cheryl, and have a private meeting to have hand’s on business building at CEO Space.

You’ll accelerate the growth of your business at CEO Space.

You’ll join the ranks of three-decades of entrepreneurs who’ve grown their businesses using the resources available through CEO Space.

Don’t take my word for it. See what Fobes and Inc. say about CEO Space (click on the image): “7 Can’t-Miss Business Conferences for 2017”

Inc._logo.png  “7 ‘Can’t Miss’ Conferences For Entrepreneurs in 2017”


Forbes.com_logo.jpeg  “Top Entrepreneur Conference to check out in 2017”


To see the previous lists (2016) you can check them out here

Forbes.com_logo.jpeg           Inc._logo.png

Your time is now; all you have to do is take the next step.



— March 8, 2017


  1. Jon

    I every time used to study paragraph in news papers but now
    as I am a user of net so from now I am using nett for content, thanks to web.

  2. I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this website
    yourself or did you hiee soeone to do it for you?

    Plz answer back as I’m looking to design my own blog and would ljke to know
    where u got this from. masny thanks

    • One of our CEO SPACE Grads laid it out…check out see a video. I’m like you I’m a tek co dependent Good?

  3. I reqlly value your work, Great post.

  4. Good info. Lucky me I discovered your website by
    chanjce (stumbleupon). I have book-marked it for later!

  5. I would like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put
    in writing this site. I am hoping the same high-grade web
    site post from you in the upcoming ass well. In fact your creative writing abilities has inspired mee to gget myy oown website now.
    Really the blogging is spreading its wings quickly.
    Your write up is a good exaple of it.

  6. I am re?ally grat?ful t? thee holder of
    this web site who hass s?ared this wonderful
    piece ?f writing at at t?is place.

  7. I rarely drrop remarks, however i didd a few searching and wound up herre WHAT IS KILLING "
    And I actually do have a couple of questions for you if you do
    noot mind. Is it simply me or does it seem like a few of the responses come
    across as if they are coming from brain dead people?
    :-P And, if you arre posting on other online sites, I’d like too follow everything fresh yoou have to
    post. Could you list off the complete urls of your public pages like your
    linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

  8. Witth havin so much written content do yoou ever run into any
    problems of plagoriem or copyright infringement? My website has a
    loot of exclusive content I’ve either authored myself or outsourced but it appears a
    lot of it is popping it upp all over the internet wuthout my agreement.

    Do you know anyy ways too help top content from being stolen? I’d really appreciate

    • Be proud of what you write. Let go of any internet thieves. In digital space it is everywhere. Just serve your community and love THEM. Thats the only on line that is required for integrity. Be in YOUR integrity the universe will take care of this ewho do not get it.

  9. I don’t even know how I finished up rigyt here, however I thought this post
    was once good. I do not knnow who you are bbut definitely you’re
    going to a well-known blogger if you happen to are not already.


  10. A person necessarily lend a hand to make significantly articles I would state.

    This is the very first time I frequented your website page and thus far?
    I surprised with the research you made to create this
    actual put up amazing. Grea task!

  11. Mei

    Hi there, I found your blog bby wayy oof Google while looking for a comparable topic, your site got here up, it ppears
    good. I’ve bookmarked iit in my google bookmarks.

    Hi there, just became aware of your weblog via Google, and located that it’s truly informative.
    I’m gonna bbe careful for brussels. I’ll appreciatte if you happen to
    proceed this in future. A lot of people shall be benefited out of your
    writing. Cheers!

  12. Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It really uswful & it helped me out a lot.
    I hople too give something back aand help others like you aided me.

  13. I too believe thence, perfectly composed post!

  14. Hurrah, that’s what I was searching for, what a information! present here at this web site,
    thanks admin of this site.

  15. You are my inhalation, I own few blogs and often run out from to brand.

  16. Post writing is also a excitement, if you know then youu can write or else it is
    difficult to write.

  17. I like looking through an articxle that will make people
    think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

  18. Good day! Thiis is kind oof off topic but I need some guidance from
    an establishedd blog. Is it very hard to set up your ownn
    blog? I’m not very techincal but I cann figure things
    out pretty quick. I’m thinking about making my
    own but I’m nnot sure where to begin. Do you have any ideas or suggestions?
    Appreciate it

    • Just google word press tutorials – and become skillful with Word press that assures you will if you type with your nose have a top blog site this weekend. It is so easy. Does that help.

Comments are closed.

Contact us if you have something important to say about this topic.