Reframing: 5 Words Architects Should Never Say (And What To Say Instead)

September 24, 2023

Tyler Suomala

Founder of Growthitect

Words can be your best friend. Or your worst enemy.

Here's the thing: it's often not about the content of your message but how you deliver it. The words you choose can either build bridges or create barriers. And the last thing you want is to lose a client over a poor choice of words.

What if I told you that there are five specific words that you should absolutely avoid when talking to prospective clients? Five words that could be sabotaging your client’s interest without you even knowing it. Intriguing and also a bit terrifying, right?

The solution to avoiding each word is "reframing."

Reframing is the art of choosing words that resonate more positively with your audience. We don’t want to change what you say. We want to tweak how you say it. It's about replacing those five no-no words with alternatives that don’t make your clients hesitate.

The right words shape perceptions, influence decisions, and even tip the scales in your favor when it comes to closing a deal with high-quality clients. On the flip side, the wrong words can do just the opposite and leave your clients confused, disengaged, and more likely to pass on an opportunity to work with you.

Personally, I used to say these 5 words all the time. And you probably do too. And so do your competitors.

But by reframing, you will create more differentiation and continue to build a unique and untouchable value for your clients.

Here are the 5 words you shouldn’t say, why you shouldn’t say them, and what you should say instead:

01 // Fee → Investment

Studies in behavioral economics show that people are more willing to part with money if they perceive long-term value. The term "investment" implies long-term value and benefits, whereas "fee" often connotes a one-time cost with no return.

  • ❌: "Our fee for this project will be $50,000."

  • 👍: "Your investment in this project will be $50,000."

And don’t forget to anchor that investment amount.

02 // Contract → Agreement

Research in social psychology indicates that people are more likely to engage in relationships that they perceive as equitable and mutual. "Agreement" suggests a mutual understanding and collaboration, while "contract" can seem rigid and legally binding (which is why the first thing you think about when you hear “contract” is probably “lawyer” 😬).

  • ❌: "Once the contract is signed, we can begin work."

  • 👍: "Once we have an agreement in place, we can start bringing your vision to life."

03 // Delay → Reschedule

Research in communication studies shows that people respond better to language that implies control and forethought. "Rescheduling" implies control and planning, while "delay" suggests an unforeseen setback.

  • ❌: "Unfortunately, there will be a two-week delay in construction."

  • 👍: "We're rescheduling the construction phase by two weeks to ensure everything is perfect."

04 // Additional costs → Enhancements

Behavioral economics research shows that people are more willing to pay for something they perceive as enhancing their purchase. "Enhancements" suggest optional improvements that add value, whereas "additional costs" imply burdensome expenses.

  • ❌: "There will be additional costs if you want a rooftop garden."

  • 👍: “If you’re interested, we’re happy to discuss enhancements like a rooftop garden.”

05 // Problem → Challenge

Cognitive psychology shows that framing obstacles as challenges can activate a more constructive and optimistic mindset. The word "challenge" activates a problem-solving mindset, while "problem" can induce stress and a sense of defeat.

  • ❌: "There's a problem with the zoning regulations for your site."

  • 👍: "There's a challenge with the zoning regulations, but we have some creative solutions in mind."

This reframe is particularly important when summarizing responses to pain points or powerful questions in the discovery phase.


Words matter. They impact the way that clients perceive and absorb different types of information. Reframe these 5 words to continue attracting high-quality clients:

  1. Fee → Investment

  2. Contract → Agreement

  3. Delay → Reschedule

  4. Additional costs → Enhancements

  5. Problem → Challenge

And, yes, you caught me - “Additional costs” is 2 words, not 1. Sorry not sorry 🙂

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