People Skills: Replace The Deadly Don’t You Think | #PeopleSkills

I often write about specific words or phrases that can ruin an interaction or destroy your professional people skills image in one quick moment. Most of them are subtly insulting, evasive, and/or manipulative — even without intention.

Today’s deadly phrase is:

Don’t You Think?

It is a statement masquerading as a question.

It sneakily demands agreement while posing as an option.

It is high pressure with low integrity.

It blocks listening by starting with a negative.

It pretends to engage yet disengages.

Professional People Skills: Replace The Deadly Don't You Think Image by:Funny T-Shirts

“Don’t You Think”

  • Makes you look like the great pretender. Are you asking or telling?

  • Suggests other’s views are unimportant or stupid.

  • Makes you seem narrow minded or bull headed.

  • Subordinates others to you.

A close cousin of “don’t you think”“I’m sure you agree”-– has the same passive aggressive vibe and negative effect on your professional people skills image and on other people.

Better People Skills Alternatives

  • I think … If you are going to express your opinion, state it clearly as your opinion. Transferring your opinion to others as “don’t you think”, is presumptuous, patronizing, and rude.

  • What do you think? This simple question opens true respectful dialogue that can lead to new options, positive relationships, and true agreement. Don’t you think is a monologue; what do you think is a dialogue.

  • What if we … In casual conversations where you might use “don’t you think”, this alternative has a positive tone and invites feedback instead of telling and demanding agreement.

Whether you are a new graduate beginning your career, a seasoned team member establishing new relationships, or a leader trying to engage employees, saying “don’t you think” will block the positive interaction you seek.

Instead, establish an authentic, respectful, open-minded reputation through every word you say.

This will open doors to opportunities you never dreamed possible.

Is there another word or phrase that you would add to the list of deadly phrases?

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Related Posts:
Professional People Skills: Change One Unfortunate Word
The Perfect Apology and the ONE Word That Destroys It

©2012-2018 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

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9 Responses to “People Skills: Replace The Deadly Don’t You Think | #PeopleSkills”

  1. Khalid says:

    I THINK this is an awesome advice! WHAT DO YOU THINK OF my comment?

    WHAT IF I always reply to your fab posts? 🙂

    Thank you Kate for your endless lessons


  2. Di says:

    This is a great piece. Thank you for sharing your advice.

    I think another phrase that is deadly (which my coworker uses all the time) is: “didn’t I tell you.” this phrase takes away the achievement from someone else who actually did the work. It’s quite a self serving statement and intellectually demeaning.

  3. Tish says:

    I have a colleague who, every time I voice a great idea or solution to a problem says, “great minds think alike”…. as if she had the idea all along and I just happened to beat her to saying it. It’s dismissive of my contribution and I don’t believe it for a minute.

  4. David Sena says:

    I dislike the following phrases:

    We should…
    We ought to…

    Of course these phrases are also hurt by the tone people use. “We should” is a dialogue killer. I encourage our time to ask the question, “I think we should…What do you think?”. I hate not being able to discuss options. Of course, certain settings preclude discussions in the moment, action is required. However, at some point even these situations necessitated a discussion.

    Great post. I am goint to add “Don’t you think” to the banned list…I think we should do this.

  5. It is more interesting to actually ask people what they think as opposed to trying to lure them into assenting to one’s own perspective. Alas, Kate you continue to be refreshing. Time for a 1K influencer on Klout….watch for it. Joseph Michelli customer experience consultant, author

  6. Rich says:

    Excellent points. Negativity is very annoying.

  7. My favorite is the one word presumptive agreement: “Clearly”… [whatever you should agree with unless you really stupid]

  8. Philip says:

    Oh my gosh
    Both of our company directors use don’t you think and I’m sure you agree respectively all the time.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Philip,
      Well maybe if they read my post sometime, they might see the negative affects and choose “what do you think” instead. Thanks for your comment.


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