This week I have highlighted stories collected in the new Happiness At Work edition #99 that can help us to make our relationships at work work better, with particular emphasis on how to make great communications.
In our work as learning specialists, when we ask people in organisations what problems they are facing, they nearly always tell us the number one difficulty they face is communication problems. The fine and deceptively difficult art of human communications has always been complex and much more likely to go wrong than right, despite our expectations that all is fine unless we get clear signs of a breakdown. And our increasingly digitalised communications are not always making things any better for us.
How many of us feel that we are as fully heard, understand and believed as we would ideally wish to be – and feel that we deserve to be?
I hope you will find something amongst the following articles to add to your own communication success and effectiveness – whether you want to power up your own communicative power and persuasiveness, or to strengthen the connections and synergies in the relationships you work in, or to harness the potential of strong, appreciative, empathetic communications to increase the happiness at work for yourself and the people you work with.
Saying Thank You expertly isn’t just a nice thing to do, it is a powerful boost to your own happiness at work, and the happiness of the people you work with. This involves being specific and matching what you say to what the recipient cares about and pays most attention to. Here’s how…
Brain studies suggest that the capacity to experience positive emotions may be fundamental to human flourishing.
Shawn Achor, a leading speaker on positive psychology, focuses on the idea of positivity in the present. Forget about delaying happiness until some lofty goal is reached, he says. Happiness is achievable today and every day. That means connecting it into your daily work.
One thing Achor recommends is to write at least one message of gratitude each day. He says this simple gesture has the potential to boost your own happiness, and that the act itself can flood your system with dopamine, the happiness hormone. What a win-win! Writing a note or email of gratitude is as much a boon to your own happiness as it is to that of the person you’re sending it to.
Saying It Right
This might sound overwhelming at first, but if you put it into the context of what you’re working on, it can be both beneficial and highly productive.
Thanking people is important, both for our mutual happiness quotient as well as to deliver gratitude for hard work. But to really help either me or my team, these notes have to be genuine and appeal to what each person values and what drives him or her.
We’ve identified four ways that people think and three ways that people behave. By tailoring your message around those attributes, you can ensure it will appeal to your recipient.
Take a look below and remember, these are all different thank-yous coming from the same meeting!
Greeting: Even the opening can be specified.
- Dear Ann. More formalised greetings probably work for leaders like Ann, who may exhibit analytical thinking or prefer a more structured environment.
- Hi, Mike! Informal greetings using a name appeal to those with a Social preference. Exclamation points convey warmth to those on the gregarious side.
- Hey! Those with a more driving behavioral preference or Conceptual thinking preferences don’t even need their name–you aren’t hurting their feelings.
Body: This is your main thank-you.
- Analytical. “Your ability quantify the value in this strategy is much appreciated.”
- Structural. “Thanks to your methodical approach, we were able to meet the deadline on Phase 1. The fact that you’re taking the lead on the planning for Phase 2 signifies strong leadership growth.”
- Social. “I am so glad that you were able to connect us with that new vendor partner. Your ability to continue this relationship will be really helpful moving forward. I really appreciate it!”
- Conceptual. “Your ability to rattle off one good idea after another in the meeting was amazing–your imagination and creativity are assets to our company.”
Ending: I like concluding notes with next steps related to behavior.
- Assertiveness. “Looking forward to next steps and doing this the right way.” Or, “Now it’s time to hit the ground running. Talk soon!”
- Flexibility. “We’ve got our plan and we’re moving forward on it.” Or, “We’ll keep you posted and let you know how things change and shake out.”
- Expressiveness. “Sincerely.” Or, “Thanks so much!”
Sending notes of gratitude not only confirms your appreciation of someone, but it also makes you happier. Doubt it? Give it a try. You can thank me later.
by Judith E. Glaser and Richard D. Glaser
In conversational communications, more encouraging, more asking great open questions and more listening will get far greater results than you telling ever will – no matter how forceful and dynamic and articulate you want to make it – and here’s some of the reasons why…
When we face criticism, rejection or fear, when we feel marginalized or minimized, our bodies produce higher levels of cortisol, a hormone that shuts down the thinking center of our brains and activates conflict aversion and protection behaviors. We become more reactive and sensitive. We often perceive even greater judgment and negativity than actually exists. And these effects can last for 26 hours or more, imprinting the interaction on our memories and magnifying the impact it has on our future behavior. Cortisol functions like a sustained-release tablet – the more we ruminate about our fear, the longer the impact.
Positive comments and conversations produce a chemical reaction too. They spur the production of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that elevates our ability to communicate, collaborate and trust others by activating networks in our prefrontal cortex. But oxytocin metabolizes more quickly than cortisol, so its effects are less dramatic and long-lasting.
This “chemistry of conversations” is why it’s so critical for all of us –especially managers – to be more mindful about our interactions. Behaviors that increase cortisol levels reduce what I call “Conversational Intelligence” or “C-IQ,” or a person’s ability to connect and think innovatively, empathetically, creatively and strategically with others. Behaviors that spark oxytocin, by contrast, raise C-IQ.
Observing Rob’s conversational patterns for a few weeks, I saw clearly that the negative (cortisol-producing) behaviors easily outweighed the positive (oxytocin-producing) behaviors. Instead of asking questions to stimulate discussion, showing concern for others, and painting a compelling picture of shared success, his tendency was to tell and sell his ideas, entering most discussions with a fixed opinion, determined to convince others he was right. He was not open to others’ influence; he failed to listen to connect.
When I explained this to Rob, and told him about the chemical impact his behavior was having on his employees, he vowed to change, and it worked. A few weeks later, a member of his team even asked me: “What did you give my boss to drink?”
I’m not suggesting that you can’t ever demand results or deliver difficult feedback. But it’s important to do so in a way that is perceived as inclusive and supportive, thereby limiting cortisol production and hopefully stimulating oxytocin instead. Be mindful of the behaviors that open us up, and those that close us down, in our relationships. Harness the chemistry of conversations.
Nick Morgan is a communication coach and the author, most recently, of “Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact.” Morgan spoke about how federal leaders can improve their communication skills with Tom Fox, a guest writer for On Leadership and vice president for leadership and innovation at the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service.
The first power cue is how you show up when you walk into a room. Some people walk into a room with confidence, while others enter with shyness, reluctance or other negative attributes.
The second cue is the emotions you convey when you are going into an important meeting, conversation or presentation. We leak emotions to the other people in the room unconsciously, so you need to first become aware of and then take charge of those emotions.
The third and fourth cues center on the unconscious messages that you receive from other people and the effect that your voice has on others.
The fifth cue comes into play in key work and social situations: What are the signals you send out that indicate success or failure? There are a series of unconscious body language signals that we naturally emit when in stressful, important situations, and they either add up to failure or success.
The sixth cue focuses on how well you manage your unconscious hopes and fears. Do they help you in times of stress or undercut your performance?
The final power cue is the stories that we tell. A great deal has been written about the importance of storytelling, but the research shows that it’s even more important than we realize. Through powerful storytelling, you can control the minds of your listeners.
…We live in an anonymous age. People today want to be seen and heard for who they are, so the first thing is to listen to your employees. Leaders are so pressed for time that they tend not to listen.
Second, find a way to be authentic. If you are not authentic, people sense it right away. That doesn’t mean that you must bare your whole soul to everybody — people don’t want that much information. Instead, you want to reveal a real piece of yourself, one that will resonate with your employees.
…Most of the time, we walk around with a to-do list in our heads — a mixture of the immediate issues we’re facing, a few thoughts about tonight and tomorrow, and perhaps a passing nod to a vacation coming up this winter. If you enter a room with that mish-mash in your head, your body language will reflect that conscious confusion, and you will not be present or charismatic. That’s why people find so many meetings in business so boring. Most of the attendees are not participating completely.
If instead you can focus your attention and emotions on a particular moment and be fully present, then you can be charismatic.
…Common leadership communication mistakes are they talk before they listen. They speak from insecurity rather than security. They are afraid to say, “I don’t know.” They make things more complicated than they need to be, in order to sound knowledgeable. If you are a young leader, you should be saying “I don’t know” at least three times a day!
You should listen first, and speak second. And you should keep it simple. By the way, our elders make all the same mistakes, too. These are equal-opportunity communications errors.
…The power of storytelling is frequently misunderstood. People have been told that they should tell stories, so they attempt them, but what they end up relating are anecdotes, not stories. What’s the difference? An anecdote says, “This happened.”
A story has a hero, a conflict, a villain, a crisis and a resolution. It’s a quest, or a revenge story, or a love story.
Most of the stories people tell lack those key elements. In our fast-paced, confusing, information-overloaded world, we really need stories to help us make sense of our lives. That’s the essence of it.
Find one of those powerful stories to tell, and start telling it. Then you can lead people in the way you want because you’re providing your followers with the meaning they seek.
…As Burton suggests, listening can sometimes be hard. It doesn’t matter what degree of hearing loss people have, or how long they’ve had it, every single one of them says the same thing: it’s tiring. When your ears and your brain are having to work much harder both to get the sounds in and then to turn them into a comfortable and comprehensible form, then you’re using up a lot of energy. If your listening is as skilled and nuanced as a musician’s, it can be exhausting.
In fact, those who have trouble hearing are often highly skilled listeners, fluent in acoustic variation and the power of sound in a way that few fully hearing people ever are. Most of them also have a different relationship to silence. All silences have their own personalities — contented or meditative, empty or replete. If there’s a whole force-field of difference between a couple unspeaking in anger and a couple unspeaking in love, then there’s also a huge variation in the silence generated both by lots of people silent in a space such as a Quaker meeting or a Buddhist meditation practice, and the silence of space itself.
True silence outdoors is as rare as it is inside, especially in a place like Britain, fizzing with people and movement. Even if there is no road or aircraft noise, then there are the susurrations of trees, leaves, grasses, birds, insects — the sounds of life in the process of living. These are the sounds that are probably most endangered and least listened to. It isn’t that we can’t hear them; it’s just that, so often, they’re hidden by the white noise of our own thoughts. More than anything, more than planes or drills, it is that soft blanketing snowfall of our own intelligence that blocks our ears. Go for a walk in the country and what you hear is not the clank of geese or the cows on their way to milking; it’s your own head.
…But if sound is a thousand times more powerful than we give it credit for, then so too is the power of being heard. Most people are used to the idea of using music to alter their own mood. Less common is the idea that just being listened to is itself a harmony, and a balm. The last time I took a London cab, the driver told me that many of his fares are so desperate to have someone hear them that they actually get down on their knees and confess into the little slit in the window between the driver and the back.
Almost everyone has things they don’t want to hear: their son’s fights, their partner’s rants, the high-stakes stuff about debt or divorce or mortality. But there’s a difference between offering someone a better connection and knowingly taking another man’s poison. And sometimes it takes a lot more energy not to listen to someone than it does to hear them out. If you completely listen, then you completely open yourself.
And that, in the end, is probably the scariest and the most exhilarating thing you’ll ever hear.
by Arthur Joseph, communication strategist and voice coach
Peter Brooks, one of my hero theatre makers, famously wrote in his opening lines of The Empty Space: “A man walks across any empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged.” The only requirement for a performance is an audience of at least one person, and recognising this, Arthur Joseph provides these excellent tips from the actor’s toolkit for making our own any-moment everyday performances connect with the people want to reach, excite and persuade to do something, including crafting your message; practice; pacing yourself, and breathing…
We live in a society where perception is reality and an opinion is formed in three seconds. We never get a second chance to make a first impression. The most effective way we have to control how we are known by others is through how we communicate.
Practice the following tips to be more deliberate and intentional in your communication with others:
1. Craft your personal statement. We have a choice in how we want to be known. Identify and write down strategic elements that reflect your positive character traits and best attributes. Begin by completing the following sentence: I want to be known as …
2. Every public encounter is a performance, not a presentation. It is a performance because someone is watching – not because it is false. The root of the word presentation means to introduce formally – to bring before the public.
Performance means to begin and carry through to completion – to carry out, fulfil. In other words, performing is an opportunity to embody who we are, not merely superficially, or formally presenting who we are.
Practice 15 seconds of an opening statement, a PowerPoint presentation or a conference call. Do this in front of a mirror and observe yourself or record it on a video camera, audio recorder or smart phone and play it back. The goal is to begin to recognise what others might hear or see. You may notice that your pitch is higher than you thought it was or that you speak too quickly or look tense.
3. Breathe. Breath is fuel. If we don’t put gas in the tank of our car, we do not get to our destination.
If it is important enough to say, breathe before you say it. Practice slowly inhaling to a count of five and say the following sentence at the apex of your inhalation, “I am an extraordinary person, and I do extraordinary things.” As you practice this phrase with this breathing technique, you are not only embedding a new communication tool, you are also learning to claim who you are — without flinching. Practice this daily until you not only believe it but you become it.
4. Speed is only speed. Communication mastery is not about being fast, it is about being effective. Nothing is gained by going too fast, but potentially, everything could be lost. The best way to slow down is to integrate this tip with the previous one. The single most important way to control the flow of information is to control the flow of breath. Breathing more slowly and deeply will slow down your communication and also create more time to think, thus more communication control.
5. No white noise. Eradicate “um,” “uh,” “like” and “you know” from your vocabulary. In place of these fillers, deliberately take your time and breathe. Space has value. Embrace it.
Many years ago, my former student Tony Robbins referred to my techniques as “pattern interrupts.” Vocal Awareness shifts our communication behavior and by extension, how we are perceived, from unconscious behaviors to strategic actions. These pattern interrupts help us discard negative or less effective habits and create more positive empowering habits. This will enhance not only your professional relationships but your personal ones as well.
Communication mastery is not about making us into someone we are not, but rather helping us discover who we truly are and embody what is possible. As you develop these new techniques, you may initially feel awkward or unnatural, but that is the nature of learning. In time, these skills will enable you to reflect authenticity, strength, warmth and compassion — not just in what you do but through who you are. The goal is for the same person to show up everywhere.
It is never just the message, but the messenger that matters.
by Carmine Gallo,
Communications expert and author of The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs watches this star performance and distils what makes it successful into these top tips for the rest of us: claiming the space and bringing a heightened performance energy; using humour; being physically fully open and connected with your audience; making your visuals visual; and keeping your audience’s attention in 10minute chunks…
Since I wrote a book titled The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, I’ve been searching for a presenter — at Apple or any other company — who comes close to sharing Jobs’ presence on stage. It hasn’t been easy. Jobs was charismatic, inspiring, humorous, dramatic, engaging and polished, and his slides were beautifully designed.
Apple is giving one vice president more time on stage and he’s the most compelling business presenter I’ve seen in a long time. His name is Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering.
Here are five very specific presentation techniques that Federighi does very effectively, techniques that you can – and should – use in your next presentation.
1. Raise the energy level. Federighi doesn’t just walk on stage. He leaps, strides and exudes passion and enthusiasm in his voice and gestures. He has a smile on his face. He laughs easily. His energy level is high – much higher than the average presenter.
Most people deliver a presentation in the same tone of voice and use the same energy as though they were speaking in hushed tones to a colleague in the hallway. A mission-critical presentation is not a casual conversation. It’s a performance. A performer such as Federighi brings up the energy in the room as soon as he walks in.
2. Make people laugh. Most business presentations are dry, boring and stuffy. Federighi didn’t get the memo. Right out of the gate he injects humor in his presentation…
Throughout the presentation he poked good-natured fun at himself, especially his mane of white hair, which he jokingly refers to as “hair force one.”
When Federighi was demonstrating new phone features, he was interrupted by a call from his mother (all of this is planned and rehearsed, of course).
3. Keep your body language ‘open.’ Federighi has commanding presence. He doesn’t cross his arms or slouch. He has a constant smile and maintains an open posture, which means his palms are up and his arms are kept above the waist. Your body language speaks volumes before you say a word.
4. Design simple, visual slides. The average presentation slide has 40 words. It’s nearly impossible to find 40 words in 10 of Federighi’s slides. His slides were photographs, images and animations that complemented his message. This is called picture superiority, which means that information is more easily retained when it is presented as pictures instead of text.
I’m not suggesting that you avoid text completely. There were plenty of words in Apple’s WWDC 14 presentation, but images and simple numbers made up the preponderance of the slides.
5. Stick to the 10-minute rule. John Medina, a University of Washington brain researcher, came up with the “10-minute rule.” He says that no matter how engaging a speaker is, the audience will naturally tune out after approximately 10 minutes. The cure is to build in soft-breaks to re-engage the audience. Federighi doesn’t break the 10-minute rule.
By building in soft breaks every few minutes, Federighi can do what very few presenters can accomplish – he can keep the attention of the audience for an hour.
You may never speak in front of an audience of 6,000 developers or customers as Federighi does, but the techniques that made him the most talked-about presenter at the Apple developer conference are the same techniques that will help you win over any audience.
by Toke Kruse
The “why” behind the do’s of public speaking
Why an audience’s attention declines and how to combat it
At first, most people are all ears, listening closely to what a speaker says, but their attention gradually drops to around 10 to 20 percent of its original level. The audience’s attention peaks again toward the speech’s conclusion.
This attention curve suggests that speakers should state their main points near the beginning of their presentations and summarize them at the end. It’s also a good idea to divide a presentation into several sections, each one with an intermediate conclusion.
Why storytelling works better than facts alone
Renowned speakers use stories because stories keep the audience members’ brains entertained and active.
When a speaker presents just facts, only the language-processing portion of the brain is activated. However, when a story is shared to reinforce key points, all the other parts of the brain are engaged in experiencing the story’s events. It encourages the audience to imagine, associate, and feel.
As such, a story evokes cognition as well as emotion. When both the mind and heart are engaged, people are more attentive and receptive to information.
Why practice really does make perfect
If you’re an inexperienced presentation speaker, don’t let your mind and emotional being get the best of you. Minimize your fear of public speaking by conducting a series of mock presentations.
When you start worrying about your communication skills, you worry about the audience’s possible negative reaction to your speech. This manner of thinking causes your body to display indicators of anxiety such as palpitations, excessive sweating, and restlessness. When your body is on high alert with those symptoms, it becomes difficult to convey any message—let alone a well-organized presentation.
One good way of combating anxiety is with practice. After preparing your materials, invite some of your friends to be your audience and do an actual presentation. When you expose yourself to an undesirable stimulus over and over again, you become less sensitive to fear. In psychology, this is considered a desensitization strategy and it works wonders for public speaking.
Why non-verbal communication matters
Your audience will absorb more than just what you say during your presentation. They will also grasp the messages conveyed byyour body movements, tone of voice, gestures, attire, and choice of materials. According to the studies of James Borg and Albert Mehrabian, more than 60 percent of the message you convey can be attributed to your body language.
When you have relaxed facial muscles, good eye contact, and moderate tone of voice, the audience will assume you are confident and experienced. But when you cross your arms in front of you, for example, you are putting up a barrier to trust. When you have a sloppy or typo-prone PowerPoint presentation, the audience will stop listening to the content you’ve been deliveringand start critiquing the mistakes they see. You lose credibility in the audience’s eyes.
Because nonverbal communication matters, don’t just focus on what to present, but also on how you deliver your topic. Your presentation is a package of knowledge, delivery style and audiovisual materials. Maximize all your resources; don’t take any for granted, or concentrate on one at the expense of the others.
“You need to constantly curate your talent pool so that you get from good to better and better to something exceptional…” Faisal Hoque
Everything Connects by Faisal Hoque and Drake Baer is a book about how to create an innovative, sustainable organisation. But it is much more. It’s about being intentional about relationships to create the space to do something great.
From their ongoing work they have concluded that organizations with a focus on long-term value creation share three principles:
1. Converged Disciplines. Ideas from one discipline aren’t isolated from another. The disciplines in a sustainably innovative organisation form a single entity. An ongoing part of identity building—both in our individual working lives and as part of a team—is to practice inviting a breadth of experiences, a pool of experiences from which we can draw on later in life.
2. Cross-Boundary Collaboration. No one operates in a vacuum. The more we can connect the people within an organisation, the more we can increase our overall potential. Relationships are the bandwidth within an organization, which means we need to be deliberate in forming them. You have to quash any sense of a zero-sum game.
3. Sustainably Innovative Structures. If you are not careful of the culture that’s being created, it will merge thoughtlessly rather than by design. Organisational structures can wreck your organisation if you rigidly cling to the product that they’re built to deliver rather than the value they attempt to create. “They couldn’t change because all they could think about was how to improve the thing they did, not the value they offered.”
All of this leads to setting up a system that continuously discovers. In other words, Hoque says, “we’re responsible for our long term growth in each short-term situation.” A long-term mindset that we manifest every day. Wedding the long-term to the short-term requires “mindfulness and authenticity, for mindfulness allows us to directly perceive our experiences in the moment, while authenticity acts as a star in the night sky, orienting us toward the future we wish to arrive at.”
By Jacob Shriar
Employee performance reviews shouldn’t be a one-way conversation.
It’s clear that professional development at work will lead to a more engaged, more productive employee.
Here are some things that you should consider telling your manager on your employee performance review.
1. What You Want Your Boss To Stop (Or Start) Doing
The atmosphere that you’re in is conducive to feedback, so it will be better received.
Since your boss is potentially telling you about things that they want you to start or stop doing, you can feel free to tell them the same.
2. What Your Goals Are
The smart leaders understand that an employee that is growing personally and professionally will be more engaged and more productive, which is obviously a win-win for the company.
It’s also important for an employee to set personal goals and work hard to achieve them.
It’s also a good way to set a benchmark, and you can see where you stand with your goals at the following review session.
3. How Happy You Are
This is probably the most important thing to tell your boss, in case he or she doesn’t ask you about this already in the review.
Employee happiness is directly related to employee engagement, and a smart leader will ask you several questions around this subject during the review.
If they don’t though, make sure to tell them if you’re happy, why or why not, and what you think would make you happier.
4. Things You Want To Learn
Tell your boss about new skills you want to have or new things you want to learn.
It’s very possible that the company can help you learn, through subsidised courses, to giving you time at work to pursue these things.
Coaching is another great way to develop and stretch your self out towards your fullest potential
5. The Future Of The Company (And What Role You Play)
If your manager doesn’t ask you this, tell them anyways, because it will show that you’re thinking about the long term, and that you see yourself in that vision.
It’s also important to really explain what role you see yourself playing in that future, because it shows that you want to grow professionally, and you have a long term vision for yourself as well as the company.
6. Things You’d Like To Try
The review is a great opportunity to reflect on certain processes that you currently have, and how they can be optimized.
If there’s a new tool, or new process that you want to try that you think will improve the way you work, feel free to mention it.
7. Collect Feedback
If you’re smart, then you’ll use this opportunity to collect as much feedback from your manager as possible.
If you want to really grow as a person, you need to be willing to take criticism, no matter how hard it might be.
Ask what you want to know. For example: “what am I doing that you think is working especially well?”
“What do you see are my strengths?”
“What is just one thing that you would really like to see me doing better or differently?”
Andrea Ayres outlines what assertiveness is, how it benefits us and how we can make our communications more assertive and effective…
Assertiveness isn’t going to solve all your problems and it’s not appropriate for every situation—context is key. What it will do, is help you feel more confident and communicate more effectively when you need to. Expressing your true self and sticking up for your rights is empowering and it’s something that the majority of us, should do a lot more.
by Emmie Martin
In the new book “Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success,” Sylvia Ann Hewlett says three things signal whether a professional is leadership material: how they act, how they look, and how they speak.
Speaking eloquently not only improves your daily communications, it builds up your overall persona and executive presence. “Every verbal encounter is a vital opportunity to create and nurture a positive impression,” Hewlett writes.
Some phrases instantly undermine your authority and professionalism, and should be banned from the office. Here are 11 things you should never say at work:
1. “Does that make sense?”
Instead of making sure you’re understood, asking this tells the listener that you don’t fully understand the idea yourself, career coach Tara Sophia Mohr told Refinery 29.
Instead, she suggests asking, “What are your thoughts?”
2. “It’s not fair.”
Simply complaining about an injustice isn’t going to change the situation. “Whether it’s a troubling issue at work or a serious problem for the planet, the point in avoiding this phrase is to be proactive about the issues versus complaining, or worse, passively whining,” Darlene Price, author of “Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results” told Forbes.
3. “I haven’t had time.”
“More often than not, this is simply not true,” said Atle Skalleberg in a LinkedIn post.
Whether you didn’t make time for the task or forgot about it, Skalleberg suggests giving a time when it will be done instead of explaining why it’s late.
Adding “just” as a filler word in sentences, such as saying “I just want to check if…” or “I just think that…” may seem harmless, but it can detract from what you’re saying. “We insert justs because we’re worried about coming on too strong,” says Mohr, “but they make the speaker sound defensive, a little whiny, and tentative.”
Leave them out, and you’ll speak with more authority.
5. “But I sent it in an email a week ago.”
If someone doesn’t get back to you, it’s your job to follow up, says Skalleberg.
Be proactive when communicating instead of letting the other person take the blame.
6. “I hate…” or “It’s so annoying when…”
Insults have no place in the office, especially when directed at a specific person or company practice. “Not only does it reveal juvenile school-yard immaturity, it’s language that is liable and fire-able,” says Price.
7. “That’s not my responsibility.”
Even if it’s not your specific duty, stepping up to help shows that you’re a team player and willing to go the extra mile. “At the end of the day, we’re all responsible,” Skalleberg says.
8. “You should have…”
“Chances are, these fault-finding words inflict feelings of blame and finger-pointing,” Price says.
She suggests using a positive approach instead, such as saying, “In the future, I recommend…”
9. “I may be wrong, but…”
Price calls this kind of language “discounting,” meaning that it immediately reduces the impact of whatever you’re about to say.
“Eliminate any prefacing phrase that demeans the importance of who you are or lessens the significance of what you contribute,” she says.
10. “Sorry, but…”
This implies that you’re automatically being annoying. “Don’t apologize for taking up space, or for having something to say,” says Mohr.
Prefacing sentences with this word, as in, “Actually, it’s right over there,” or “Actually, you can do it this way,” puts distance between you and the listener by hinting that they were somehow wrong, according to Carolyn Kopprasch, chief happiness officer at Buffer.
Rephrase to create a more positive sentiment.
What is on your list?
All of these articles are collected together with many others in the new edition of Happiness At Work #99.
BridgeBuilders STG offer bespoke training across the UK in communications including high impact presentations, voice and performance coaching, assertiveness and confidence and speaking with greater authority and persuasion, leadership communications and solving relationship and communication problems.
Do contact me if you would like to explore what programme we might be able to make for you: firstname.lastname@example.org