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Michael Lopez

Robin Paggi is a human resources consultant with worklogic legal solutions.

Words are incredibly powerful and can make or break a relationship with a customer. Indeed, in their article "Words Can Change Your Brain," Mark Waldman and Andrew Newberg, M.D., report that hearing the word "no" releases dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters in the listener's brain.

Because you don't want to stress out your customers and possibly lose them as a result, here are some tips for turning what sounds like a "no" into what sounds like a "yes."

When an item is not available, instead of saying, "We don't have that in stock," say, "I'd be happy to order that item for you."

When you don't know the answer to a question, instead of saying, "I don't know," say, "Let me find out for you."

When transferring a call, instead of saying, "That's not my department. I'll have to transfer you," say, "I'm going to put you through to the person who can help you."

When the computers are down, instead of saying, "The computers are down, so you'll have to call back," say, "The computers are down. Let me get your number and I'll call you as soon as they're working again."

When you're waiting on a customer and another one is waiting, instead of saying, "I can't get to you right now," say, "I'll be with you in just a moment."

When a customer complains about something that you had nothing to do with, instead of saying, "That's not my fault," or "I don't know anything about that," say, "I'll see what I can do about this."

When a customer asks you to do something that you cannot do, instead of saying, "I can't do that," say, "What I can do is this."

Most negatives can be turned into a positive with a little effort. In the few cases when they can't, an "I'm sorry" goes a long way.

Learn how to turn negatives into positives and teach everyone at your business how to do so as well. Because if your customers hear "no" too many times, they will take their business to someone who knows how to say "yes."

Robin Paggi is the training coordinator at Worklogic HR Legal Solutions; the views expressed here are her own. Reach her at