As a leader, I know making a first impression is important.
Truth is, I’m not always that good at it.
But it is even more pressing that you make a good impression on your own people every day. That’s a real challenge.
The words and the tone you use make a huge impact on each interaction.
Some phrases spark positive reactions. Others help conversations move forward effectively. And some make a perfect ending.
So, we’ve created this cheat sheet of phrases to help you communicate more effectively not only with your employees but also with your colleagues and customers.
Kick It Off
Try these phrases to start conversations on the right foot:
Hello/Good morning/Good evening. Common courtesies are not so common these days. Many interactions start and end meaninglessly with one distracted person saying, “What’s up?” or “Yo” to another.
I’m glad to see (or hear or meet) you. It makes people feel special immediately.
I understand. Telling people that you understand their issue or feelings early in the conversation puts them at ease.
After you. Use this polite phrase – and accompanying gesture – if you’re with someone (perhaps opening a door, entering a room or getting in an elevator). On the phone, use it to suggest the other person say everything he needs to before you talk.
You’re welcome. Avoid, “no problem.” It starts negatively.
Keep It Going
These phrases show interest in other people and keep conversations moving in a positive direction:
Can you tell me about . . . ? Unless you need to know a very specific thing (such as a date, exact number or location), invite people to tell you more in a way they’re comfortable.
I’m really impressed by the way you . . . Sincere compliments will get you a lot of places.
You were right. Let people know when they’ve had a good idea or made a suggestion that worked – or they got it right when you didn’t.
Can I get your thoughts on this? This will serve you well for two reasons: You’re telling people you respect their opinions. Plus, you get insight on the best way to handle a situation.
Continue the Support
These phrases are powerful in showing that you care about and support other people, or you’re happy with the interaction and want to maintain a good relationship:
Congratulations! When people mention good news, it’s far better met with an enthusiastic “Congratulations” than an uninspired “That’s good.”
Give it a try! It’s a strong dose of encouragement and support when someone has a new idea.
We’re in this together. Solidarity is a powerful thing. It makes people feel like they’re part of something bigger and shows you’re interested in their success.
Why not? So often, we ask, “Why?” when given a suggestion or asked for permission. The better – and more positive – question is “Why not?” It opens possibilities.
I’ll support you either way. You’re reassuring people that there’s no wrong decision and you have their backs going forward.
Thank you. It just can’t be said enough. Thank employees for their day-to-day efforts. Thank colleagues for their support. Do this verbally and in writing regularly.
You can use these phrases as they are. But over time they’ll likely evolve into go-to phrases that more naturally fit you.
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