How To Be Effective In The Office

I’d like to share with you a few little workplace-effectiveness techniques that boost success. Did you know that changing just a few of the everyday words you use while conducting business can actually enhance people’s positive impressions of you? Here are three quick and highly effective linguistic tips you can start using today and learn how to be effective in the office.

  1. “Do” or “can” instead of “try.” When you’re a pro at what you do, you understand the importance of managing expectations among the people you support and work within the office. That’s why so many of us use the word “try” (as in, “I will try to have that report finished Tuesday”) to buffer our schedules and communicate parameters on tasks and projects. Problem: “Try” has a somewhat wimpy connotation, as if you’re unsure – even when you aren’t, of course! Solution: Replace with variations of the words “do” or “can” instead – and focus on what is definite: “I’ll do a preliminary outline by Tuesday for review,” or “I will complete a preliminary outline Tuesday.”
  1. “Believe” instead of “think” or “feel.” If you’re a careful listener, you’ll often hear people say something like, “I think/feel the best course of action is….” Communication experts agree that replacing “think/feel” with “believe” expresses even more assertiveness and self-confidence to management, colleagues, and clients: “I believe you’re right.” Bonus fact: To communicate even more directly and succinctly, practice dropping the use of “I believe,” and stick with the statement itself: “You’re right.”
  1. “And” instead of “but.” Here’s one of my favorites! See if you can tell the difference between these two statements: “I know you’ve missed the deadline, but…” vs. “I know you’ve missed the deadline, and….” The first sets up a negative “but,” which precedes bad news – and since people know this, they tend to get defensive or tune out whatever follows, regardless of its legitimacy. Conversely, the second statement acknowledges the bad news, yet skillfully avoids the sense that a shoe is about to fall. Result? The “and” says, “We can work on a solution, which is more important than the blame right now” – and people are far more likely to listen, meaning communication improves.

Successful professionals focus on what I call the “language of the positive.” There are many, many more examples of this than those I’ve provided. Can you think of any additional ways to change commonly used words or phrases so co-workers and clients respond even better? I encourage you to delve deep and test new ways to communicate verbally. Have a great week!

Joan Burge

monday motivators

This post is part of Joan’s Monday Motivators, a weekly editorial designed to kick off your week with practical ways to create a new mindset, change behaviors, develop positive relationships and thrive in the workplace with energy, effectiveness, and excellence. Sign up HERE to follow Joan’s Monday Motivators.

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