While some phrases get in the way of our ability to communicate effectively, other phrases help us genuinely connect with those around us and deepen our bonds. That’s why mindful communication is especially important at work. Whether you’re a manager looking to provide more direct feedback, a leader trying to spark meaningful and productive team conversations, or an employee who wants to contribute more, the words we use are key.
We asked our Thrive community to share with us the thoughtful questions and phrases they use at work to improve their communication. Which of these will you try using at work?
“I often use phrases such as ‘let’s brainstorm,’ or ‘let’s talk through,’ instead of ‘discuss’ or ‘debate.’ The first two sound more fun and engaging than the last two.”
—GiGi Carter, author and consultant, Eastsound, WA
“How can I support you?”
“Being in a people role, it’s important that I make an intentional effort to make people feel welcome to talk to me. I find that asking, ‘How can I support you?’ is a great way to show teammates that I care and am invested in their success. This also allows me to learn how I can best serve my teammates, rather than making assumptions about their needs.”
—Andrew Gobran, people operations generalist, Minneapolis, MN
“Can I get you anything?”
“I love to go out to lunch or on a coffee run to get out of the office for a quick break as often as possible. I share a pod with a few coworkers, and I make it a point to ask them if they would like to join me for lunch or coffee every now and then. If I get the sense that any of them are stressed and may not be able to leave the office, I’ll offer to bring them something back. I’ve learned that genuine consideration for others’ needs builds strong relationships in the workplace.”
—Alyssa Swantkoski, executive assistant, Denver, CO
“How can I say this kindly?”
“My business relies on relationships, but often the work arena is heated with impending deadlines and tight budgets, which often equates to highly charged emotions. Much of the communication in my field is demanding and criticizing. I will often read a scathing communique and set it aside for a few minutes before I begin to respond, pondering, ‘If I want to keep this valuable relationship, how can I say what I must say with kindness, as thoughtfully as possible?’ This puts any emotional charge that I might have on the back burner while responding as calmly and appropriately as possible.”
—Mike Darcey, construction management, Honolulu, HI
“The best is yet to come!”
“I like to use this phrase because it quickly raises the level of creative energy, motivation, and optimism in the process of reaching our goals and completing our tasks. This phrase is a reminder that we deserve more than we allow ourselves, and we can do much more than we already do. It can be used in various forms as needed, for example: ‘Look, the best is yet to come!’ Or, ‘The best is yet to come, why not?’”
—Valentina Malesevic, lecturer and NLP master and business coach, Belgrade, Serbia
“Please help me understand.”
“I’ve found the ideal way to communicate with others to enhance engagement and increase my understanding is to ask them about themselves. When I would like more clarity, or even to diffuse a tense conversation, I say, ‘Please help me understand why you feel that way.’ I also might ask, ‘If that is so, then how will you benefit?’”
—Mike Skrypnek, author, speaker, and entrepreneur coach, Squamish, B.C., Canada
“It seems to me that…”
“Years ago, I was called out for how I made statements that sounded as if my expressions were statements of undeniable fact, causing others to clam up. To stop the consequence of expressing strong opinions, I began starting my sentences with: ‘It seems to me that…’ or ‘perhaps.’ Instantly, I began hearing more input from those around me. These few words turned my statements into prompts for further dialog. Not only was my voice heard, but those around me became comfortable letting their voices be heard.”
—Francine Tone, attorney, leadership and emotional intelligence trainer, Truckee, CA
“I hope you’ve had a good start to your day.”
“Having worked in various educational establishments globally, the first thing I learned was that it is so important to understand one universal language: a smile. With a smile, one can begin the day on a positive note and greet people with an opening of a pleasant ‘Good morning,’ and ‘I hope you’ve had a good start to your day.’ It is important to acknowledge one another in any working environment. Quoting an affirmation each day is a positive form of communication and it’s brilliant to display on a board where the working environment feels like a team.”
—Belynder Walia, psychotherapist, RTT™ practitioner and mindfulness coach, London, U.K.
“Reading any new books?”
“Checking in with co-workers is most effective when you’re standing near the person, so you’re not shouting from a distance, and going beyond the typical ‘How are you?’ question. Instead, I like to ask about what matters in their lives to help establish a human connection. Some questions I find effective are, “How are your kids enjoying school?” Or “Any new books I need to read?”
—Rosemary Ravinal, public speaking coach, Miami, FL
“I believe that our interpersonal skills at work should mirror how we interact at home — with sincerity, compassion, respect, and kindness. With teams I lead, I practice checking in every morning and saying ‘good night’ at the end of every day, and I ask the same of each member.”
—Rosemary Ravinal, public speaking coach, Miami, FL
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