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The Seven Words That Can Save A Business Meeting Gone Bad

Just about every entrepreneur has experienced a business meeting or sales pitch that somehow went wrong. Maybe you’ve come in with incorrect information or inadvertently said the wrong thing. You can keep trying to make your point — and likely lose a client. Or, says best-selling business writer Andrew Sobel, you can try seven little words: Do you mind if we start over?

“People are forgiving. They want things to go well, and this question disarms them and eases the way to a new beginning,” says Sobel, co-author of the book “Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others.

Sobel says the question is just the beginning. If you’re wrong, apologize. If you are not wrong, start over in a way that doesn’t try to place blame. And don’t forget to smile. “More than words alone, a genuine smile shows that your intentions are pure, and the vast majority of people will be willing to give you another chance,” says Sobel.

Finally, when you start over, really start over. Ask the other person a question to draw them back into the conversation. It could be something as simple as “How have you been thinking about this?” or “Would you share your view of the situation?”

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