Second Ugliest Word

The word ‘can’t’ is the second ugliest word in the English language. It starts with a harsh ‘c’, continues with a whining ‘a’ and finishes with a short ‘t’. Wheedling, nasally, perfunctory. Say it. Out loud. Ugly, right? Not only does it sound ugly but it feels ugly too.
The world is full of people who can’t:

  • Get there on time.
  • Meet a deadline.
  • Make an appointment.
  • Return your call.
  • Remember your name.
  • Be bothered.

The definition of ‘can’t’ needs to be rewritten – it no longer means ‘unable to’. Most of the time, it now means ‘too lazy to care’.

How often do you say to a client, loved one, friend or colleague ‘I can’t…’? Are you really unable or incapable of doing something or are you just tossing it into the ‘too hard’ basket?

‘Can’t’ is terminal. It doesn’t offer solutions; it kills conversations, business deals and friendships.

When you’re about to say the word – stop yourself. Reflect on why you are closing yourself off to an opportunity, conversation or responsibility.

Replace ‘can’t’ with something that will give you the option of engaging instead of terminating.

Some people hide behind the word ‘can’t’ because it’s deliberately vague. Don’t be vague, be honest.

If you are unable/incapable/unwilling/uncomfortable – own that. People, customers and friends value honesty. It also keeps the doors open, the conversations flowing and the opportunities moving…

If nothing else, think about this:

Change one letter in the word ‘can’t’ and it becomes the ugliest word in the English language – and the person who you’ve just answered is probably thinking you are one.

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