Sometimes it is not what you say- but how you say it!

Communication is the most important skill used in my day

Sure design is important too- but not if I cannot communicate my ideas to a client. Managing a project is important- but not if I cannot communicate with my subs. Running my retail shop is part of my day too- but I cannot do this without talking to vendors and getting what I need.

The words you use define you and your business

I think this is clear to most business owners. Yet there  are words, phrases and philosophies people use without thinking about it. Are your projecting confidence? Do you sound tentative? Does your website verbiage reflect the type of clients you want to  get?

Better language strategies put into place will improve your bottom line.

Your language impacts the business not just in verbal conversations but in branding, website positioning and communicating with your team.

It is key to have a clear focus on your vision words as well as the words that are not conducive to creating the mental image you want your firm to represent- or that will hinder your efforts in establishing relationships with vendors and subs.

Vision Words- Stop what you are doing and write down 5 key vision words- right now

Vision: the ability to think about or plan the future with

imagination or wisdom

Vision is our top ‘vision’ word. It embodies the single most important element I want clients to think about.

Choosing vision words is an important part of branding. And they can change too as your business morphs from one level to the next- or you scale back- or add varied services. But these words are not about a touchy feely type of exercise- These words should embody what you want people to say or feel about your business. Then you need to use them- often. In copy, in your internal messaging, in interviews- anywhere you can.

Info graphic attached. Feel free to download as a reminder! We have so many of these around to make us mindful every day of what we say.

Key words or phrases that can undermine your efforts

“Just” –

This word is weak- and apologetic.  Using this word introduces doubt and can be seen as passive agressive as well. It is not easy to eliminate it but it should be eliminated in business. Ex: “This is just an idea I had….” I have caught myself saying this in the past too. My ideas are not all brilliant but they are my ideas and I want to project confidence when I say “I have an idea!” You may think you do not do this often but you do. Everyone does.

Try looking at your emails for this word and edit it out and then see how much stronger the email reads.

“I think”

If you are saying it then you think it. Yes? Be declarative to convey confidence. Instead of “I think this is a lovely choice for your living room because it is so pretty” say “This is a lovely choice for your living room because the color will tie into the art work in the living room and you can see both of these elements when you enter the room”. This is way to protect yourself from criticism.   Be declarative and give a reason that relates to the design rationale. When you must use a conditional word or two then use these “we expect…” or “We are confident…”


I cannot abide this word used to sell anything relating to interior design. It does not reflect well on a luxury service. Who wants to buy a package of hours? What the hell? Are you selling hours then? Your time? No- you are selling your creative vision based on your skills and experience. You should not be selling a package- ever.

It is the word not the idea that makes me crazy eyed.  If you want to have specific services that are ala carte to your full service design then call it “ala carte” services–not a package. If you are selling a block of hours and refer to it as a package- call it something else. It can also be ala carte- I am against selling “time” as we do not sell our ‘time” but if you do and it works for you then consider the full service design as your main service and price it lower as it will require a bigger commitment.  Then have any other specialty services including the option of purchasing blocks of time as part of the ala  carte menu- and priced higher.  


My feelings on this word are well known. We do not allow it to be spoken in our shop! We do not discount because we give the best pricing from the start. If you discount then people come to expect it-  who shops in Ann Taylor Loft without a discount or a code? No one.

When you are giving the best value for your overall proposition you do not need to do this and it confuses people. The price is the price. Now, does that mean we do not have sales? Of course we do. And we offer added value when someone wants to purchase more product in our showroom! But with clients, we start with the premise we are here to execute a win/win and we go into it with our best pricing and also state this in our proposals. You sign on with us- we take care of you.

How can you do better than this? You can’t.

“Obviously” or words like this- another example is ‘Actually’

These are condescending words. I only use them when I am purposely being condescending. Yes I admit it. People think using “actually” is not a bad thing but it is.


Stop overly apologizing. This is usually a problem in your team. They think they are doing the right thing by saying they are sorry several times and they are not- especially when is a customer. One time is sufficient.

“Stuff or Things”

If you are designing a home or space you are not filling it full of stuff or things and you should never refer to it this way either for gods sake yet I see it happen.  Say the name of the item.


We say investment as many do. Why? Because it is an investment. Cost is our wholesale price. This is an important differentiation and is taught during on boarding new employees too.

Our cost– we always will say our along with cost because then there is no confusion- ever.

Retail price– in our world this means the true retail- msrp- again important to differentiate this when you have a team.

Internet price– this is the average price selling for an item if it is sold on the internet.

Client price– this is how we reference the client price internally- not cost. Ever. This extra wording will help your team from making a mistake and believe me- it happens.

Investment– this is how what the client price is referred to in communication with clients.

This type of basic yet critical information will be part of my retail guide too. These small but mighty tips have saved me tons of money in mistakes!

No tag line words at the end of your statements in the form of a question.

This sofa is perfect, don’t you think? This is an example of a tag line at the end of the sentence asking for reassurance and it does not establish a camaraderie like some might think. It weakens the previous statement.

Words do matter and the language you use should be consistent with your team as well. I spend a good amount of time sending pointers on how to phrase issues, problems and introductions to our firm. This is vital to my vision of how we are perceived.

Do you have questions and are interested in some one on one consulting? Click the image below for more information on booking a consulting session!