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8 One Liners That Stick

8 One Liners That Stick
Talking

One liners are the stuff of effective communicators and though we are seldom aware of it, each of us can use them to our advantage. The “art of delivery” is not just for a skilled politician who is running for reelection but can be mastered, over time, by just about anyone. A good one liner doesn’t click immediately but leaves its mark, silently accomplishing what the deliverer has in mind- results.

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Sometimes these results are nothing more than memory. I want you to remember my car dealer and so I develop a tag line that accomplishes my aim. Other times, I want to build relationship with you and I use one liners to get to know you and follow up with you. My one liners are over the phone, in print material and in casual conversation. They are effective because they are used breathlessly.

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The key of course is to figure out which one liner works best and when to use it.
What follow are some excellent one liners that, if delivered well, will make interactions memorable and help you get ahead.

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  • Susan, Susan Thompson. The repetition of your first name twice is very effective. This subtle repetition of one key name (and it might be your last name that you want folks to remember) plants it firmly in the mind of the person you are shaking hands with or speaking to on the phone.
  • I’ve heard some great things about you. We all like to be famous, even if it’s fleeting or with a small group of people. Letting someone know that they’re liked by others is an important way of getting them to like you. They become instantly curious as if to say, “Can I have a list of those great things?”
  • I’m looking forward to that. Following up a conversation is very important and one of the easiest one liners involves leading your audience towards a goal. If it’s a follow up lunch a week later, I’m looking forward to that. If it’s a negotiation before the end of the fiscal year, I’m looking forward to that. If it’s a family gathering at the beach, I’m looking forward to that. This simple one liner lets others know that you value relationships over routine acts.
  • Leave your name and phone, speaking slowly enough for me to write it down. I’ve used this one in phone messages for years and while it sounds corny, it works. Most people think they’re driving in a Nascar event when they leave a voice message so you need to slow them down. This one liner does just that.
  • I’m not sure about that but I think we can do this. The that-this dynamic is effective not only because it acknowledges the other’s perspective but it gives them something concrete and doable. For example, I run into parents who want to negotiate a deal for a son or daughter who is in some sort of difficulty. Rather than giving in to an unreasonable demand for complete amnesty for their child, I offer them something that is both attainable and concrete. I’m comfortable with it and they usually warm to the idea. Just because something isn’t a person’s first option doesn’t mean it’s a bad one.
  • I think we have something in common. Nothing forms bonds better than something held in common. Food, geography, people, cars- whatever it takes to find a connection. Don’t go overboard with your follow up but let the other person know that you have something in common and it’s ok to briefly touch on it.
  • Let’s strike while the iron is hot! Rather than a lukewarm offer to get together “at some point”, strike while the iron is hot and put it on the calendar today. Few things speak of productivity better than someone who can turn a wish into a workable situation.
  • Let me see if I understand where you’re coming from. You may find yourself in the middle of a conversation, a debate or even a fight- slow things down with this great one liner. It works every time because it tells the other person that you care enough to report back what you’ve just heard.

George Bernard Shaw once said that “The problem with communication … is the illusion that it has been accomplished.” To be effective at home and at work, the use of one liners can get results, form deeper bonds and enable you to communicate on a higher level.

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Mike St. Pierre blogs daily about productivity and work-life balance at www.thedailysaint.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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