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


A week or so ago I posted this short comment and the response was a good amount of agreement that the phrase is not a good one. So we’re delving a bit deeper.

Nancy Friedman customer service keynote speakerWhat are the ramifications of saying, “can I be honest with you?” to a customer, prospect or anyone for that matter? To name a few:

* It’s a ‘trust’ violator.

* It’s considered ‘social noise.’

* It reduces your credibility because people expect honesty. We call it a credibility buster.

* There’s a hidden message in what you’re saying.

And there are plenty of ‘cousins’ to that phrase that are annoying phrases. Do these sound familiar?

* Can I tell you the truth?

* Let me be perfectly frank.

* You want the truth?

* I’m gonna level with you.

* Can I be candid with you?

Do you feel there is an appropriate time when it’s OK to use this phrase? Here are 3 reasons why NOT.

* It’s simply not effective. Avoid the phrase.

* It’s a totally useless phrase.

* This phrase questions your own integrity. Customers, family, and friends expect the truth and your honesty.

When we hear “Can I be honest with you?” we tend to wonder about the previous and forthcoming information. We expect the truth every time. So why the disclaimer?

A few (but not limited to) replacements might be: “Here are my thoughts” or “You make a good point; however, I was thinking about this . . .”


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.