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The Most Dangerous Words in Business

  • Sometime
  • Someday
  • One day
  • Soon
  • Thinking about it
  • Planning to
  • This week
  • This month

You may not see anything wrong with these words at first glance, but they are indeed dangerous.

These words have ruined many businesses and destroyed many a career.

How so?

It’s not the words themselves; it’s how they are so often used. More specifically it is what fails to accompany them.

You see, these are words of indecision.

Words of the talker… and not the doer.

Let’s look at a few examples:

“One day I’m going to join a gym.”
All that’s being said here is that you’re thinking about joining a gym. Just the same way that you’re thinking about a trip you want to take. It may happen, it may not.

“I’m planning to start reading books instead of watching TV soon.”
You might think that because you are “planning” to do something you are being productive. The problem with planning is that people say that for everything. It doesn’t really mean anything unless you’re talking about ‘planning’ as a strategic action you are doing right now. And what about “soon”, doesn’t that show urgency. It should, but it often turns out not to.

“I’m going to work on that this month.”
This month is specific, but there’s a problem here. It’s still too vague. When this month? What day this month and at what time?

If you find yourself using these words take action to stop yourself and change from being indecisive and vague to decisive and specific.

When you turn a plan of working on a specific task from sometime this month into working on it on the 15th day of this month a big change occurs…you actually work on it and get stuff done!

The words we use influence our actions and behavior.

Why not choose the language of success?

What other words can you think of that are dangerous and unproductive? Share them in the comments below.


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11 thoughts on “The Most Dangerous Words in Business

  1. “Should I . . . ?” That always sends me to la-la land–unless I have a plan to follow up.

    • Richard – good addition. ‘Should I’ is a good question to ask…though it can lead to sitting on the fence and waiting…or putting things off it you don’t make a clear decision and assign an action to it.

  2. Sal says:

    Playing the victim role is also dangerous.

    • Sal – thanks for jumping in. Can you clarify what you mean? I’d be interested to learn more.

  3. Isabelle says:

    Another great article Michael:-) and I also find that these words are dangerous in my personal life.

    • Isabelle – glad you enjoyed the article. You’re right, they do have an impact on the personal side as well as when working towards goals and future plans.

  4. These words are so part of our every day walk that we don’t realize the havoc that we are causing our self. Great article and reminder to think before you utter words. Words have power and you are today because of what you have done yesterday!!

  5. Prasanna K says:

    How true!! Unless we are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Result-focusssed & time bound), just sentences would not make sense. I like the choice of words to describe indecision.

  6. Kaleab Seleshi says:

    I hope i am speaking for all of us when i say “most of us have this difficulty to get rid of the vague planing”. I think, we like to plan vague thiking that we are week and when we want to skip our gulit for non-accomplisment. we tend to put lots of negetvity for the things we faill to do, E.g “i didnt start Gym becouse of weather”; “i plan start my study this year, however, i couldnt becouse i didnt have the money to pay” and lots of more negative reasoning. we know in our heart that the only insucess in our life is our vague planing… we dont plan precisly, if we were, there is no excuse that can be made to skip our gulit inturn gets us moving forward like a turbo train.

  7. I totally agree with the article. Here are a couple more dangerous and unproductive words/expressions that we do not use in our family.
    1. Try
    Stop and think about it. The word implies failure. It is like saying, I am going to give this some effort, but it may not work. It also sets you up to have a good excuse, as in “At least I tried”. In our family we have a family purpose and a list of values. One of those values is ” There is no try, there is only do or do not”–Yoda. This means we decide whether or not to do something. If the answer is yes, give 100%. If the answer is no, we give 0%, forget about it and move on to something else.
    2. “Should have” or “should of”
    Unless you have a time machine, this expression is useless. Worse, it is counterproductive because in our mind you are demeaning yourself. “I ‘should have’ started investing a percentage of my income years ago.”
    The question is “What are you going to do now?”
    The real effort here is to practice precision thinking, take decisive action and do it now.

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