By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Keynote Speaker, President Telephone Doctor Customer Service


Always, never, I’m absolutely sure, and I’m positive. Challenging words.

Ever get caught in a dilemma where you mean well and the other person derails you because of one simple little word?

Yea, it happens to us all. Or should I say many of us.

Small changes can help with staying on track so you don’t get derailed. And these changes are useable in all 6 touch points of communication. Email, voice mail, snail mail, phone, fax and face-to-face interactions. (OK probably in TEXT too.)

If you use “I ALWAYS” do this, or worse, “YOU always” do that, we have the chance of the other person showing you that you are wrong. DEAD wrong. And the conversation goes sideways. While we certainly like to think we ‘always’ do something this way or that way or the other person “always” does as well, it’s rarely is true. And they’ll go out of their way to prove you wrong.

We can replace ALWAYS with “I USUALLY” do or “It seem as though you OFTEN.” These small changes can save lots of frustration, hurt feelings and embarrassing moments.

The same goes with “I NEVER” do that. Or again, worse “YOU NEVER” do this or that statements. Those are the gateway to arguments. And way too confrontational. Too accusatory. 

Other words that could help might be “Are you aware sometimes (or often) you do this?” 

Using CARVED in STONE words are guideways and pathways to arguments, diversions and miscommunications and sidelines the conversation and point you’re trying to make.

It’s not easy to make these changes as we talk because most often we don’t THINK before we talk; however, they are so worth the effort. 

One of the true crime TV programs I watch, Investigative TV, ‘often’ has shows where a person is identified as the perpetrator in a lineup or from a picture and tells the officer, “This is the man. I’m positive.” And, of course, at the end of the show they find that’s not true.

Then in the next scene it’s proven the person who was ‘so sure,’ so 100% positive, was wrong. Costly comment. 

If you choose to use ‘always,’ ‘never,’ ‘I’m sure’ or ‘I’m positive,’ be 150% cure of your claim. Be able to back it up, because when you are the ‘accuser,’ trust that someone will find a way to make you wrong.

What other words can you think of that undermine the conversation like these? Like to hear from you.

Nancy Friedman

Nancy Friedman

Communication and customer service expert Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor, founder and chairman of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, is back in the saddle again. Well, back into live onsite programs, and still offering her ZOOM programs, in a cost saving manner. Whichever you choose, onsite or Zoom, you’ll be glad you did. The reviews are excellent, and audiences have loudly applauded her in either area. Sales, customer service and communication skills are her area of expertise, and she welcomes calls, texts, or emails. You can reach her directly at; through the website at, where you can sign up for her newsletters; or call/text directly at 314-276-1012 central time. Bring it on. Whether you need a keynote speaker or workshop/breakout speaker on customer service and communication skills, you’ll make a great choice.