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Four Words That Kill Connection – And The Antidotes

Written by: Gary B. Doherty, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Everyone wants to know the inside secrets of what makes a TEDx Talk go viral and get millions of views. To explain properly in this article by the time you get to the end you will have insights into the deep diving and thinking into what made Marc Jacobson’s talk do just that, reach millions of people. Marc is a very special human being with an uncanny ability to connect with an audience whether it be live or virtually. His timing is impeccable and above all he intuitively knows what to say and when. This is extremely rare indeed’.

Marc’s life changed forever in 2014, after being hit from behind by an older driver, traveling at just 10 miles per hour. He was rushed into an emergency nine-hour surgery to save his life. As he says himself:

“Imagine lying on a cold metal table, in no pain, one hour after the doctor gives you a 50/50 chance to survive surgery – or a 50/50 chance you will never walk again.”

A miracle occurred. Not only did Marc wake up, but he could walk. The doctor said Marc had a higher purpose, something he would never forget.

Marc realized that it was time to live the life he wanted. Going forward, his life’s focus was creating connections with people he never had before in a way he never had before.

Eight years later, Marc has unlocked the secret to connection, the four common words that kill it, and the four antidotes to create it.

The first step is to replace the word “I” with “My”, “We”, or “Our”.

Considering a scenario where an individual is having dinner with a partner who spends the entire meal talking about themselves. Using the word, I’ repeatedly. Such a person's ears are ringing, there isn't enough tequila to get through the pain, and they vow never to see them again. This predicament was brought about by a single word: "I." The more a person utilizes it, the poorer his or her relationship becomes!

Marc’s antidotes bring people into the conversation and help them relate to an individual. As Marc says, when it comes to creating connection: “My is Good, We is Better, Our is Best.”

The second step is to replace the word “Help” with “Support”.

Many an individual has gone into a store and been asked: “Can I help you?” The employee means well, but the human brain automatically thinks: “I don’t need help!” This destroys the connection that individuals could have had with the employee, which could impact their sales.

Marc had the idea that changing the word "help" with another will build connections with people much more successfully. So, he decided to put it to the test.

He walked into a department shop and requested a clerk to assist him with some research. Marc enquired of the employee how many individuals answered to the query "Can I assist you?" and was told that it was 1 in 20 – if that.

Marc set him a challenge – to change the word “help” to “support”, asking the question: “How can I support what you’re looking for?” This simple change led to 15 out of every 20 people responding.

The third step is to replace the word “Success” with “Potential”.

According to Marc, “success” is one of the most overused words of recent times. It means different things to different people, isn’t actionable, and just isn’t a useful way to build connections.

Marc believes that “potential” is more powerful. Specifically, an individual’s potential. Every individual should stop thinking about success and start thinking about potential. As Marc says: “Your potential is what success never thought to ask for.”

The fourth step is to replace the word “But” with “And”.

Everyone has all had a conversation that feels positive until they hear one word... “But”.

The impact this has is profound. People tend not to remember the positive things being said prior to the words that come after the word “but” is used.

The key to improving creativity and collaboration is replacing this dreaded word with a simple alternative: “And” as this helps keep the conversation positive.

Marc’s team recently worked with a large company to help improve the performance of their sales team, and they wanted to do something radical. He told the management team that he wanted to focus on the employees they were thinking about letting go.

At first, they couldn’t understand it – but Marc wanted to demonstrate that the issue wasn’t the salesperson themselves, it was the training they were given. Marc wanted to focus on developing the potential of one of their worst performers and get them to the top of the leaderboard in 12 months.

This person went from £1 million in sales to £18 million – an 18x increase during a global pandemic. Marc focused on how to communicate with these individuals to help them grow. Using “and” instead of “but” helped unlock their potential.

The more every individual practices removing these connection killers and using the antidotes instead, the deeper connection they will build with those around them.

Marc’s journey has been challenging, but now he uses his experience and passion to help others develop meaningful relationships with just a few simple changes to how they communicate.

A truly remarkable TEDx Talk and one that has taken the world by storm.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or visit my website.


Gary B. Doherty, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Gary B. Doherty is an award-winning entrepreneur and philanthropist. Founder of personal development platform Think Network and pr agency BE SEEN Gary is most well known for being a 2 x TEDx Speaker and word-leading coach. Gary's mission is to support ambitious individuals to be the very best versions of themselves ensuring they are seen, heard, and very visible... In September 2022 Gary was awarded Businessman of the year in his home country of N Ireland.



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