Words are Powerful

June 6, 2018

4 words to remove from your vocabulary

You did a good job, but, I am sorry to say, you should always feed the patients at 5:30.” This sentence oozes with wrong words to use. Can you pick them out?

Behind every word there is an intention. Words are POWERFUL!

When speaking with your veterinary co-workers, consider the words you use. Are your words bringing them down or elevating them? Actively choose words which enrich conversations and support relationship building.

I love you, BUT

How often has someone attempted to compliment you, then destroyed the compliment by negating the statement with “but.” I love you (that’s a statement by itself), but (negates all the previous words and ideas) I need for you to change. That’s a bit of an exaggerated example to hit home the point in a bold way.

Example: “I really appreciate you helping Mrs. Smith, but next time you should take the sack of dog food out to the car for her.

Subtle Fix: “I really appreciate you helping Mrs. Smith by taking the dog food off the shelf for her. In the future, you are encouraged to take the dog food to her car.

Words to replace “but” may include “and,” “consider” or “maybe” (to alter the statement into a question). Or maybe it’s appropriate to allow the statement to come to an end. “I love you.”

Overuse of Sorry

Reflect on the words that you use.

Consider how many times in a day you say “sorry,” whether something was your fault or not. When sorry is used too often or too easily it devalues a true, earnest apology.

When sorry is used frequently or inappropriately, we are essentially diminishing ourselves, stating the other person is better than us, which reflects low self-esteem.

Example: “Sorry,” when someone brushes against you in a crowded hallway. “Sorry I couldn’t answer earlier” when you are unable to answer the phone right away. “Sorry you had to wait,” when someone has been on hold. “Sorry, the client hollered at you,” when it wasn’t your fault.

Subtle Fix: “Pardon me,” if a statement is needed at all (apologetic eye contact may suffice). “Thank you for calling today.” “Thank you for holding. How may I help you?” “Are you OK? I heard the client hollered at you.

Saying sorry all the time, especially in a work environment, sets you up for being a sorry individual, seen as incompetent, and prone to mistakes. It can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Words to use instead of sorry:

  • Excuse me, pardon me
  • I regret
  • It is unfortunate
  • That’s sad
  • Silence


Imagine when speaking to someone using the word should as you shake your pointer finger at them. That’s the visual of “should.” It is laden with guilt, judgement and negativity.

In the above example, “…you ‘should’ take the sack of dog food out to the car for her.” Did you catch it? It is a negative word. The word ‘should’ suggests the person has no sense or concept of alternatives.

Subtle Fix: “In the future you are encouraged to take the dog food to her car.

You may use “consider,” “may,” “could” or “the preferred way.” These are a few examples. Train the brain to replace ‘should’ with a healthier, positive word.

Always and Never

Absolutes are rarely the truth. “You never put away the instruments!” Really, never? “You always come to work late!” Really, always?

In the first sentence above, “…always feed the patients at 5:30.” Really, is that the case? What about patients that had surgery later in the day? So 5:31 won’t work? You get the point.

What Else?

There are other words in the average vocabulary that can be replaced with better alternatives to improve the conversation.

Some more obvious ones are:

  • Stupid
  • Hate
  • Loser
  • What else? Fill in the blanks ______________________________
  • ________________________
  • ________________________

Keep in mind, each word carries a large amount of intent as it pierces your lips. Consider if your words are building someone up or tearing the person down. Be thoughtful. Words are powerful.

Consider using this Blog to open-up the conversation with your team. Identify ten words to remove from their vocabulary and ten words (or series of words) to use as replacements. Write the list down and post it in a well-viewed area.

This will encourage a shift in word usage to elevate the veterinary team to the next level of communication and relationship building.

Yours in Powerful Words,
Rebecca Rose, CVT

Remove sorry from your vocabulary, Eezee English Zone, 2016:
15 words you need to eliminate from your vocabulary to sound smarter, The Muse, Jennifer Haskamp:
6 words to drop from your vocabulary, Inc., Christina Desmarais,