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8 Expressions Really Good Communicators Always Use

Want to communicate more effectively? Try using these expressions to prep the listener.

Good communication is all about preparing the listener. Few of us have endless time available to listen to endless chatter about nonsensical subjects or to put up with complex details. This is even more true in the office. To communicate more effectively, try using these phrases to prep people. It gives them some notice about when something is important, complex, or just a little more entertaining.

1. We have a green light...

This is one of my favorite expressions, because it's a sign of someone who is a good communicator. It creates a positive feeling in the room--there are no more problems to worry about; the upper management at a company has already approved what you are about to say, and listening will be worthwhile. It sets a tone and pushes the topic forward.

2. Let me back up...

A friend of mine uses this expression quite often. It's a great way to reframe your conversation and recapture attention. Essentially, it's like saying you have already spilled all of the juicy details but want to fill in a little more detail, and it's worth sticking with the conversation.

3. I have an answer for you...

Here's a direct, no frills-approach to communication. When you let people know you have an answer, they will perk up. Part of the reason is that we all want to get the basic summary on a topic, we want answers to problems, and we want to be part of a solution.

4. The really good thing about that is...

This phrase helps the listeners understand that, whatever is coming next, it will be worth giving it your whole-hearted attention. In the same way as saying "you have a green light" for a project or topic, you are preparing the listener for something positive, encouraging, and motivational.

5. Here's my reasoning...

Similar to letting people know you have the answer to a problem, this expression is a smart lead-in because it prepares the listener for a more lengthy explanation. We can settle in a little and wait for you to go into more detail. Plus, we get a clue that things might get a little complex.

6. Let me tell you why that's important...

Here's one that's the same as sticking up a red flag in the middle of a conversation. Maybe the person you are speaking to isn't really listening that carefully. By saying you want to relay something important, you are letting the listener know when to cue in a little more.

7. You will think this is funny...

I like this expression because it creates empathy with the listener. It says, I know you and what you usually want to hear, so listen a bit more attentively. You are preparing the listener to receive information he or she will probably enjoy hearing and admitting that you don't want to waste any time.

8. There's a story behind this...

Most of us don't have time for lengthy conversations at work, but we all love stories. Plus, when you tell someone you have a story, the person can relax a little and not think as much about what to add to the conversation. The person can tune in a little differently.

Last updated: Aug 15, 2014

JOHN BRANDON | Columnist

John Brandon is a contributing editor at Inc. magazine covering technology. He writes the Tech Report column for

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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