I love words. I understand, value and utilize the power they each hold. As a professional creative, I prescribe words like a doctor prescribes medicine. People hire me to find the right words to make their brands, products and services sound as attractive as possible.
Just as words have the power to make people, places and things sound more attractive, they can also make them sound uglier. I know which words make me sound like me is dumb. And I know which words make you sound pervy.
In America, we constantly introduce new words and phrases into our banter to see what sticks. Some of these are interesting and innovative (Emoji, FOMO, Photobomb). Some of them are moronic (Totes, Obvi). Either way, blame Kanye.
Today, there are two unfortunate phrases that are clinging to conversations like cockleburs on corduroy. If they haven’t arrived in your neck of the cell tower yet, they are coming. I’m referring to the increased use of, “To be honest’ and her twin sister, ” To tell you the truth”. I know deep down you know this, but when you tack these unnecessary qualifiers onto any other statement, you have told the person on the receiving end of the statement, “Usually I lie to you.’ Or ‘Most of the time I just make up shit without verifying.’
At The Perfect Agency Project we are especially concerned about removing these phrases from business. We don’t want your salespeople or customers support staff dropping, ‘If I’m being honest’ or ‘To be completely truthful’ on your customers and potential clients. This undermines the trustworthiness bestowed upon your brand. And that will end up costing both you and I real money.
Please coach your team out of using these phrases. You can do that by sharing this post. Or you could do what I do when people drop these phrases on me. I respond immediately to the errant statement with, “Thank you for being honest with me.” The response I get is always very WTF-y. Because people are not thinking about what they are saying. But I want you to. I want you to sound smart. And trustworthy. And professional. But, hey, It’s all good.*
*’It’s all good’ has been rated as the funniest cocklebur-phrase of all-time by The Perfect Agency Project. Because it is almost always used in instances where something, if not everything, is not good at all.