5 Powerful Words You Should Be Using

31 Dec 2018 Posted in ⟨For Business Leaders⟩

Did you know that the words you speak determine how successful (or unsuccessful) you will be?

Simple words that we choose to use can affect the whole narrative and subconsciously impact our worldview and behavior. Here are 5 simple yet powerful words you should use to cultivate a positive speech habit and breeze through everyday situations in life.

1. “I can”

Henry Ford once famously said, “whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” Saying “I can’t” shuts down any chance of succeeding, while saying “I can” opens us up to possibilities, so make the right choice!

Action: The next time you face a problem, tell yourself, “I can” and notice the difference it makes!

2. “Thank you”

It’s free to say “thank you” and it has a dramatic effect on our health and interpersonal success. Studies from Harvard Medical School has shown that gratitude leads to greater levels of happiness, while another study conducted has suggested that simple expressions of gratitude can help others warm up to you, especially for acquaintances.

Action: Remember to always say “thank you”, and that includes saying it to yourself!

3. “Because”

Back in 1978, social psychologist, Ellen Langer, conducted a study where she tested how effective three different phrases were when cutting in line to use a photocopying machine:

  • “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”
  • “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?”
  • “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?”

While 60% of respondents agreed to the first prompt, over 90% agreed when she used the second and third prompts. Why? Because she gave a reason!

Action: When you want people to take action, justify it by saying “because.”

4. *Insert name here*

Forgetting someone’s name incites awkwardness and shows how little attention has been invested into the conversation. To create a memorable impression, make the effort to remember the other party’s name. Best-selling author Dale Carnegie advises, “a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Action: Address people by their names. Associating a name with an image can aid with recall.

5. “How might we”

These are three words that innovators constantly use. Tim Brown, the CEO of innovation and design firm, IDEO, says that the “how” assumes that there are solutions, the “might” implies we can put forward possible ideas and the “we” implies doing it all together.

Action: Start any problem-solving process by first asking “how might we…”


If you’re serious about setting yourself up for success, check out one of the Udemy courses by by NTUC LearningHub to start cultivating successful communication habits from the comfort of your own home!

(This article was first published at NTUC Plus!)


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