Magazine article USA TODAY

PowerPhrases: The Key to Winning Respect: Saying What You Mean and Meaning What You Say Can Help You Become Heard

Magazine article USA TODAY

PowerPhrases: The Key to Winning Respect: Saying What You Mean and Meaning What You Say Can Help You Become Heard

Article excerpt

WHY IS IT THAT one person sometimes gets results from at he or she says while another goes unnoticed? Why is it that an idea sometimes is credited not to the originator, but to the person who eventually makes it happen'? Do you know someone who simply doesn't get any respect despite his or her best efforts to be heard? Is that person sometimes you? There is a method that people use to get that respect. It can he called "PowerPhrases," and is an effective tool in business and personal life.

In a crowded conference room, Wendy mustered her courage and stood up. She made a suggestion that was quite brilliant. No one even responded to hen Rodney watched her from across the mahogany table. She saw him ponder her idea for a moment, then he stood up and basically said exactly the same thing 10 minutes later. Suddenly, the leant acted like it was the best idea they had ever heard. He is still getting credit for it months later: Wendy has no idea what went wrong, and she fumes about it to this day.

Jill told her son Sean to turn off the television set, and he ignored her. Her husband Roy told Sean to turn off the TV, and Sean did so right away. Jill feels weak and powerless with her own child.

Travis' boss called him rote his office and then kept him waiting for 15 minutes while he discussed social matters with someone on the phone. Travis' co-worker Brent never had that happen to him.

If you can relate to these stories, have you ever stopped to wonder why you don't get the respect you deserve? A generation ago, people were taught to defer to their elders automatically. Courtesy in the workplace and honoring one's parents were just part of living in polite society. Today, respect is no longer offered automatically. Respect gets earned, never granted. How do you "earn" respect?

Here is the key: People will treat yon with precisely the amount of respect you demand from them, consciously or subconsciously. Self esteem comes from what we project to others, about how we feel about ourselves, and how it is okay or not okay for them to treat us. To make matters worse, when self-esteem drops, people behave in ways that invite more disrespect. A downward spiral is created that continues. "I feel so discouraged!" Wendy says after her input is ignored. "Now I doubt myself, and I don't even want to try. Nobody listens to me anyway."

Of course, there are many things that affect our level of respect. I recall a woman who once told me she never got any respect. When I noticed the spaghetti stain on the tight blouse over her rather ample breasts, I thought, "I bet she doesn't!" Dress, nonverbal communication, and financial status all affect the level of respect we get. Still, it is when we open our mouths that people make their final assessment about who we ,are and how to treat us. That is why it is so important that we speak in PowerPhrases, which teach other people how to treat us with respect.

A PowerPhrase is a short, specific expression that gets results by saying what you mean, meaning what you say, without being mean when you say it. The best thing about the benefits you will get from employing PowerPhrases in your life every day--the respect from colleagues, friends, and family; the boost to your self-esteem; and the result from your ideas being taken seriously--is that they are amazingly simple to learn and implement.

Anyone can get immediate benefits by learning to use PowerPhrases in everyday communication. Let's take a look at four PowerPhrase principles that can dramatically alter the way people respond to you, starting today:

PowerPhrases are short. Less is more. Conciseness in speech conveys purposefulness. It shows that you have things to do, people to see, places to go. It makes what you say all the more valuable.

Many great communications are very brief.

The Lord's Prayer is just 56 words long. The Gettysburg Address is a mere 226 words. …

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