Your ability to effectively communicate with peers, co-workers, and subordinates is key to your success. But to connect with others with words takes a very human approach in the way you speak to them.
For example, do you compliment others for doing good work? If so, how often? Do you acknowledge and celebrate a team member's efforts?
We spend the majority of our time at work, but most of the time we treat one another like strangers. Taking into account all the digital exchanges we have in the course of a workday, what can you verbally say that will draw people to you, inspire others, and build trust?
1. "I trust your judgment."
Trust is a two-way street. By extending it to others on your team, they'll be more inclined to return the favor and trust you back. Next time someone gives you input on the direction of a project, be open, have faith in that person's ability to get it done, and say, "I trust your judgment on this one. Let's roll with that option and see where it takes us."
2. "Explain to me why ... "
People love to talk about themselves. By drawing attention to them and their story, you make connections. For example, when you seek advice or ask someone a genuine question about how something works, it's rewarding for them. By asking a co-worker to explain something, they'll associate you with being a curious and open-minded person. And research has found that curious people are known for having better relationships, and other people are more easily attracted and feel socially closer to individuals who display curiosity. An example to finish this sentence could be: "Explain to me why moving in this direction excites you. I want to learn more about what gets you pumped up."
3. "We could not have done it without your hard effort."
This is a great way of showing gratitude to someone for exceeding expectations on a tough project that tested the whole team. Stating this publicly in view of team members, with permission from the person receiving the message, is especially gratifying and shows that person how much he or she is valued. This is quite possibly the highest form of saying thank you. Acknowledging someone else's effort for going above and beyond reinforces a strong team culture.
4. "I love how you handled that [describe the situation]."
Praise is one of the best motivators in the workplace, especially coming from a peer or colleague who understands the challenges of a particular project or task. Letting someone know how they handled a specific situation or an angry customer builds total confidence in that person's ability. It communicates their worth to the organization and your belief that they have what it takes to do the job well.
5. "I could use your advice on this."
Research has linked people who ask for advice to being perceived as more competent than they are. They are emotionally present and ask for help when it's needed. By being real, humble, and emotionally honest, teams connect and collaborate better. That's a recipe for good business outcomes.
6. "How can I help?"
This is a welcoming phrase, especially during times of high stress or when team members are facing deadlines or challenging situations. Offering to help demonstrates that you genuinely have the backs of fellow employees.
7. "Honestly, I don't know."
It's uncomfortable admitting you don't know something, especially in a leadership role when people expect you to have all the answers. But good leaders are confident enough with not knowing because they understand it's the humble path to learning and growing. When you pretend that you know everything, you shut down opportunities to get different points of view in order to learn more.
8. "That was clearly my mistake."
Good workers don't hide behind their own hubris and deflect responsibility to others. They acknowledge and own up to their mistakes. This sets the example for others to be honest and not fear making their own mistakes.
9. "I'm truly sorry."
Anger is a powerful human emotion, and all of us will experience it during a conflict at one time or another. The tendency for so many of us is to let anger and resentment fester after an argument, and then cut off the person from our lives until he or she reaches out to us with an apology. Sure, that's convenient. But it's also just plain dumb. People with emotional intelligence don't let their ego have its way at the expense of losing a friend. They'll be the first to reach out to make amends, even if it means apologizing first (and really meaning it). That humble and courageous act will do wonders for relationships at work.