One Word Makes a Difference

Our choice of words on the phone, especially with people we don’t know, are what take a conversation from good to great. In fact my passion for phone communication grew out of my discovery many (many) years ago that my use of the word “just” (as in “I’m just calling) was directly responsible for my lack of success.

I know many of you find this hard to believe – that one word can have such a huge impact – so I was pleased to discover this lesson from another point of view recently – in an article in “O” magazine!

As I write that I can feel some of you rolling your eyes. “Really, Mary Jane,” some of you are thinking. “You read The Oprah Magazine?”

Yup, I do. A dear friend sent me a subscription for my birthday in 2010 and I am now dedicated – although never up to date – I’m currently finishing the July issue. I have discovered excellent journalism, valuable small business profiles and startling inspiration on the pages of this publication. I’m a fan!

The story I want to share with you involves the actor, Bryan Cranston. I am most familiar with him as the father on Malcolm in the Middlebut he is also in a current series called Breaking Bad.

In the article he is talking about how he has evolved as an actor and shares the story of a Grade 5 production of The Time Machine in which he played Professor Flipnoodle who travels through American History. During a Civil War scene the Professor is supposed to say “President Lincoln will finish writing the Gettysburg Address once he returns to the White House.”

Cranston grew up in Southern California and during the ‘50s and ‘60s there was a large department store chain called White Front and, yes, he delivered the line as “President Lincoln will finish writing the Gettysburg Address once he returns to the White Front.”

The audience laughed hysterically; Cranston’s deep love for acting was born and he learned this lesson:

“When I started doing community theater in my early 20s, that fifth-grade experience came flooding back. I remember thinking, “That’s the biggest reaction I’ve ever gotten as an actor, and it all hinged on one word.” It hit me that … a single word can change everything.”

This is one of the many reasons it is important to be fully present when you are using the phone to prospect. Don’t be multi-tasking or allowing your brain to wander towards the weekend. Don’t sort email! Listen to how the words you are using are inspiring or repelling your audience – and make the necessary adjustments!

One last thought:

When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece. -John Ruskin, author, art critic, and social reformer (1819-1900)

Happy dialing everyone! TPL

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What's The Phone Lady doing?


  • Remote learning experiences + one-on-one coaching for women entrepreneurs (More info about this three-year program here.)
  • Team and individual coaching with a national moving company to refine their sales process
  • Remote half-day training for provincial tourism representatives
  • Remote seven-part sales training program for US-based SaaS
  • Remote webinar on accounts receivable communication for industrial-services company
  • Remote webinar on validation to college students in entrepreneur program
  • In-person workshop on job search skills for women in the trades
  • Remote half-day webinar on written correspondence to customers

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