Have you ever had a conversation with a friend or colleague and, after making a point, you wait for the response and get: “Yes, I hear what you say…”

Now does that mean to you: “I hear what you say, (pause) but…” or: “I hear what you say and I agree with you”?

Because it could go either way couldn’t it? If you’re someone who leans more towards the negative glass-half-empty camp, you’ll be expecting the “but…”. However, the positive gung-ho types among you will go away happy that their idea has been taken on board.

And that’s the strange thing about language – you really can say one thing but mean something completely different.

Look at these 10 examples of what you might say, what you might mean, and what others might THINK you mean:

1. I hear what you say / I disagree / She accepts my point of view

2. With the greatest respect / You are a half-wit / He is listening to me

3. That’s not bad / That’s quite good actually / That’s poor

4. That’s a brave proposal / You are insane / She thinks I have courage

5. That’s quite good / It’s a bit disappointing / That’s quite good

6. I would suggest / Do it – or else! / I can think about it, but do what I like

7. Could we consider some other options? / I don’t like your idea / He hasn’t decided yet

8. I’ll bear it in mind / I’ve forgotten it already / She will probably do it

9. Very interesting / That is clearly nonsense / He’s impressed

10. I have a few minor comments / Rewrite it completely / She has found some small errors

‘Say what you mean and mean what you say’ is a great expression. Saying what you mean is being honest and truthful with other people, hopefully without hurting anyone’s feelings.

Meaning what you say is carrying out the promises you made, jobs you put your hand up for or threats you issued (like telling your children there’s no TV tonight unless they tidy their rooms).

And it proves that being clear and concise in your speech – as well as your writing – is one of the most important things you can be, especially in a business environment. Today more than ever, there’s an urgent need for clear and sensible communication, without the ambiguity and uncertainty.

So that when you say or write something, the person receiving that missive will know exactly where they stand with it. Giving you the respect and understanding you deserve.

And if you agree with the points made in this blog, please don’t say: “Not bad…”.

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