The other day, my email was flooded with thousands of notices that people were signing up for my weekly newsletter. At the peak, new subscribers were joining every 3 seconds--an unprecedented number.
Had I been hacked? Thankfully not. Instead, it was the result of a column I'd written: 19 Words That Will Make People Like You More. An estimated 2 million people read it, both on Inc. and on partner sites like Yahoo. Now thousands of them were reaching out to me.
I was filled with gratitude. As a writer, nothing feels better than knowing that people are actually reading what you write. I also thought about why that article that struck such a chord with readers. So, I asked you for still more words and phrases that you should make a habit of saying every day. Here are some of the best:
Words 1-3. "Please" and "thank you."
Let's start with the basics of decorum. As we've established in previous columns, you should always offer a full "you're welcome" instead of "no problem" or the like, as some people seem to do. However, many readers pointed out that if we're going to advocate for "you're welcome," we should probably also advocate for "please" and "thank you."
Words 4-7. "We're in this together."
Despite being close to the mantra of a particularly dystopian movie, phrases suggesting camaraderie can be powerful. Whether you are working with a trusted team on a tighter than comfortable schedule, or even just waiting with strangers for hours at an airport departure gate, embracing the suck like that with others can go a long way toward gaining respect.
Want extra bonus points? Have a great sense of humor and be known as the person who makes the best out of less-than-ideal situations.
Words 8-12. "I can't help you, but..."
This phrase is first cousins with "I'll find out," and it takes "I don't know" to the next level. A sincere "I can't help you, but..." indicates your willingness to go out of your way- -to leverage your knowledge or your connections to get someone else the assistance that they need.
Besides displaying goodwill, the offer can validate whatever it is that the person you're dealing with needs. That in turn can inspire others to work harder and achieve even more.
Words 13-18. "I'd like to introduce you to..."
Suppose that my friend John wants to work at Spacely Sprockets, and that my friend Sally worked there for years before recently accepting a new position. They don't know each other, but it would really help John to learn more about the company if he had a chance to talk with Sally, so I link them up. John gets information; Sally gets a new contact. As for me, I get the the simple satisfaction of helping others.
Malcolm Gladwell writes about these kinds of connectors in The Tipping Point. They are people who have "a special gift for bringing the world together ... [and] a truly extraordinary knack [... for] making friends and acquaintances."
Words 19-22. "Let me get this."
Because of my ghostwriting work and the nature of my books, I wind up spending a lot of time with people who have a lot more money than I probably ever will. It can seem silly sometimes to pick up a round of coffees when you're hanging out at a Starbucks with a billionaire. However, I've found that the gesture of insisting on paying (at least sometimes) means more than the amount.
So, the next time someone wants to pick up the check for you, let them. Then smile and remember the first words on this list. ("Thank you!")
Words 23-26. "I'm disappointed in you."
In the short term, these words might upset people, but in the long run they can make people like you more. Teams tend to play to the level of their opponent, and people tend to perform proportionate to your level of expectation. So, if you're disappointed, you're telling the other person that you think highly of him or her to begin with.
Words 27-32. "Forgive me, I've forgotten your name."
It happens. We all forget a name from time to time, and several readers suggested they prefer when people just admit it, rather than hide behind a cacophony of verbal camouflage (the old, "Hey! Great to see you!" in which you never mention the other person's name).
So, admit your mistake, pay the other person the compliment of being honest--but then be darn sure to commit that name to memory!
Words No. 33-37. "You have a new subscriber."
For a writer--especially one who asks readers to contact him in every single column--I can tell you first-hand that this makes me really like people! More to the point, if you have ideas for other words and phrases that I should include in another column, I hope you'll click that link, sign up, and let me know your suggestion.
As always--Want to read more, make suggestions, or even be featured in a future column? Contact me and sign up for my weekly email.