Stop saying this one word during meetings

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This word implies that what you are saying is correct, even if it is obviously your opinion.

You agree with every word I'm typing, right?

That sentence has a big red flag in it. It sticks out in a way that makes me annoyed when people use it, yet it's so common it came up during two different phone calls today.

The word is "right" and it's usually preceded by a statement that may or may not be true and followed by a question mark. Here are some examples.

"We should always have a salad before the meal, right?"

"You check your email in the early morning hours, right?"

"It's a proven fact that Donald Trump is going to be elected this November, right?

Well, wrong. None of those statements are 100% true, especially that last one. When you say "right?" as a question at the end of a statement, it's a way to build consensus, but it's flawed. When the listener hears you say "right?" they will slip into what you might call the "fight or flight" mode for conversations. We tend to be analytical people. Someone says something that might be true or might be an opinion, and we question whether we should agree. We fight the urge to comply.

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In some cases, saying "right?" is a way to make what you say a little more compelling. "Barack Obama was an amazingly good President of the United States, right?" The problem is that the person you're speaking with may not agree, and you've now created even more doubt. It only works with your own team, people who agree with you already, or talking to someone who is already on board with your idea.

It doesn't help if you swap out the word. Maybe instead of "right?" you add a "don't you think?" or a "isn't that true?" question at the end. It's a feeble attempt at consensus. Lately, when someone keeps saying "right?" during a product demo, I feel a little insulted. Did I just agree with you? Because, I don't remember saying anything that would lead you to believe that. In fact, if you asked me right now, I'd maybe say "wrong?" as a way to assert myself and my opinions.

What works better? In any conversation, it's important to remove the assumptions and build consensus using facts. A better conversation might go like this:

"Science has found that having a salad before dinner helps you lose weight."

"I've found that checking my email in the morning makes me more productive."

"Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, which means he has a 50% chance of winning."

What's so different about each of these statements? In the first one, you're not stating an opinion as much as you're repeating some well-known research. In the second, you're providing a personal view that has helped you and you're suggesting the same approach might help someone else. In the third, you're simply stating a fact. No one can argue with you, even though they might still give it a shot.

Removing "right?" from your phone conversations, meetings, or even your emails might be hard. The people who do that seem to have formed a habit, and the habit is a short-cut that should be erradicated. It's a tough one to break though, right?

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