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Powerful Words: Comfortable

January 13, 2013
Mary Jane Copps

One of the best ways to improve communication with others (on the phone, in writing and in person) is to focus on them. In other words, as I’ve shared in previous posts … It’s Not About You!

Using the word “comfortable” on the phone helps you make it about them.

Here’s why:

Business telephone conversations are usually headed to an “ask” of some kind. Think about your asks. Do you most often call to: Book time for a meeting? Get permission to send along detailed information? Get permission to send a contract for signature? Confirm a cheque or form will be  sent to you by a certain date? Get agreement on a follow up conversation?

No matter what your ask, it still needs to be about the other person’s wishes, schedule, abilities. Otherwise you may receive a very direct “No, can’t do that.” And then where are you?

For example:

“Can we organize a meeting for next week; Thursday at 10 am?”

It’s certainly possible they’ll simply say “yes” and that’s great when it happens. But it’s also possible they’ll say “no” and … you’ve got nothing. You haven’t learning anything and you still don’t have the meeting. You can keep flipping through your calendar suggesting dates and times, but that’s awkward. So instead try:

“Can we organize a meeting for next week? Would Thursday at 10 am be comfortable for you?”

Can you hear the difference? The ask is transformed into something about them, what will work best for them.

The power here is that the word “comfortable” means “things that are easy and pleasant”. Consider what we associate it with  – comfortable chair, comfort food, comfortable shoes, comfortable clothes. We all like things that make us feel comfortable, so when we hear the word, we feel taken care of, we feel relaxed.

And in this moment, conversation will take place. Which, regardless of your ask, is what you wanted anyway, right? The other person will respond not only with “yes” or “no”, but they’ll tell you what makes them comfortable – and why. In other words, if they are comfortable with having a meeting but the date you’ve suggested doesn’t work for them, they’ll say something like:

“Sure but how about next Monday at 3 pm.”

The word comfortable let’s others know you are interested in them and encourages them to tell you  the truth about their schedule, their interest level, their ability to act.

And that saves everybody time and money!

I’d love to hear and share your thoughts, so don’t hesitate to comment on this post. And please let me know if there’s a word or phrase you’d like me to feature here. Also, come back next week when I’ll introduce you to the power of  “or.”

4 COMMENTS

  1. Steve Foran says:

    Comfortable…. very interesting. Makes sense and I will give it a try. Thanks.

    steve

  2. This would be the first time I wasn’t “comfortable” with your wise counsel, MJ. The word “comfortable”, for an odd reason, would sound fine to me coming from you, but not fine coming from me. Is it a male/female thing? Is that politically incorrect for me to say or feel?
    At first blush, I’d be inclined to say “OK” or, “all right”, as in “Is that OK for you?”.
    The rest of your rational I’m good with!
    Keep ’em comin!

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Thanks, Brookes. Always great to be challenged. And you are right, the words I post here have to suit you in order for you to use them. If they feel awkward or silly – they’ll sound awkward and silly when you say them. So, yes, try “okay” instead. And, if you think if it and have the time, let me know about the reactions you receive.

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