Do you scare people off when you speak? | Show Up and Sparkle

How to inspire instead of being scary

I think we’ve all heard someone start off with “well, the trouble is” or “what worries me is” haven’t we? Or what about the classic “now, our first problem is” – talk about putting you on your back foot and priming you for ‘trouble ahead’. Do you know the thing that happens when we hear those sorts of phrases: our brain immediately asks “uh, oh – what’s wrong?” or “oh dear, I need to brace myself for a problem” and so we’re automatically on the lookout, or listening out, for a problem.

Ask yourself this:  “Is it useful for me and for what I want to say to have people listening out for a problem?”  No.  We both know it’s counter-productive.  When we start to scare people off or put them on the alert, we’re telling them that we’re thinking about something as a problem.  They may not be.  They may actually decide it’s an opportunity or have a spin on the subject that you haven’t thought about and often you can come across as a worrier or a ‘scaremonger’ without actually meaning to.

The more savvy, effective way to draw someone’s attention to something tricky is to present it as a challenge or something to solve and introduce it that way.

Here are some quick examples for you to introduce the thing you’re a bit concerned about or see as a potential problem but without labelling it as one at the outset:

  • What ideas do you have about…?
  • Now, here’s something I know you’ll have some thoughts on…
  • This could be a bit tricky, how will we get around this…
  • I’ve been thinking about this and know that you’ll be able to help…
  • How are we going to avoid…?

By presenting the information in the form of a challenge or by presuming that the other person will have ideas about it or a solution you immediately do three savvy things:

  1. You come across as someone open to a challenge and always looking for a solution;
  2. You prime the other person to be up for the challenge by presuming they’ll be able to help and posing a helpful question rather than presenting them with a problem (what ideas do you have? how can we? what do we do about?);
  3. You avoid that whole scaremonger, doom-and-gloom negative way “what I’m afraid of is” and “the worst thing is” by actually planting the suggestion of blocks or bumps in the road and scaring people off.

So, the next time you hear someone say “well, the trouble is”, presume that they really only need to flip it and think to yourself “well, the trick here is, how do we…?” and then off you go and lead the hunt for the solution.

I’d love to hear what you think. You can leave me a comment or a note here. Here’s an immediate and practical Gift of you!  A complimentary copy of “Do You Have Trouble Saying NO?”

Let me walk you through the mindsets, strategies and exact words and phrases to use to ensure you keep stronger, more assertive boundaries for yourself and your time without upsetting yourself, or the other person.  Also, you’ll receive my twice-monthly eZine filled with more tips, tools, ideas and news.

About the author

Kay White is our Show Up & Sparkle blogger. Known as the Savvy & Influential Communication Expert for Ambitious Women in Business, Kay shows professional women how to attract promotion, recognition and rewards at work without feeling they have to ’sell their soul. Kay shows her clients, who are corporate career women at all different stages of their careers, how to naturally attract more income and opportunity all while being true to themselves. Combining strategic moves with influencing skills plus compelling and assertive language and powerful mindsets, Kay draws on her own 20+ years corporate career in the very male-dominated world of London insurance broking. She started at 18 as a Secretary and left as a Director to start her own business. Hosting an annual 3-day Event for corporate women “Show Up; Sparkle & Be Heard LIVE” Kay encourages and shows women how to be the best, most valuable version of themselves. Kay is author of the Number 1 Best-Seller “The A to Z of Being Understood” and you can connect and find out more from Kay at :

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