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5 Phrases Excellent Communicators Always Use At Work

5 Phrases Excellent Communicators Always Use At Work

If you are good at your job, solve problems and can meet deadlines, you may think that is enough. According to a National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) survey, there is something missing. Effective communication skills are vital and are at the top of their list.

They list the top 5: communication skills, analytical skills, teamwork skills, technical skills and strong work ethic that employers are looking for. Not that leaders and managers are doing so well on the communication skills battlefront either. They often have to deal with the rather nasty consequences of poor communication when productivity and morale plummet, not to mention lawsuits, some of which stem from a simple breakdown in communication.

“Communication heals most wounds, but when you are amongst those with hidden agendas, they are more like viruses and difficult to cure.”- Glenn Llopis, Forbes magazine contributor.

Here are 5 phrases that skillful communicators will use with maximum effect in the workplace.

1. “Have you had a situation where that strategy worked?”

This is ten thousand times more effective than “No, I honestly think that would not work.” An excellent communicator knows she has to show a certain openness to new ideas. Asking for details of past experience shows a desire to build a team and make joint decisions without destroying trust or morale.

2. “Tell me more, that sounds really interesting”

If the coworker says this, it shows a willingness to listen which is one of the pillars of effective communication. If he chooses to say “If you think that’s bad, let me tell you what happened to me,” he is sending a very strong signal that it is his turn to speak and he has a better idea/proposal/ example to talk about. It is also saying that he wants to dominate the discussion. All these are the telltale signs of a very poor communicator. You can tell that this person is hardly listening at all as he prepares his own perfect example.

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3. “What do you mean when you say…?”

A manager or colleague can give feedback in many ways and they can also repeat exactly what the team member has just said. This sounds rather false. A much better approach is to use the above question and ask more questions to clarify other issues, outcomes and consequences. Also, show that you have really listened at the end by recalling a few of the points raised in a fresh sentence or in action points, if they are feasible.

Skilled communicators will be paying attention to the non-verbal signals they are sending as well. They will avoid crossed arms and look to maintain eye contact. They are not afraid to use appropriate touching. They know that touch is the most powerful of all the non verbal cues.

Did you know that body language conveys more meaning than the actual words we use? Albert Mehrabian is a psychologist who has done some interesting research on this. The message is not so much -watch your language as watch your body language.

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4. “Let me know why you were behind on that deadline so that we can get back on track.”

The clever communicator knows that ticking off a person with “You should work harder at meeting deadlines” is missing the mark almost entirely and comes across as unhelpful. A much better idea is to offer a solution or help to find out what the real problem is. Making suggestions and offering advice is a great way to build bridges which is what communication is all about.

5. “Here are a few points you need to work on before the next sales presentation.”

Very often, critical comments such as “ I’m really disappointed your sales presentation went badly” will be taken as a personal attack and will cause resentment and poor performance. An excellent communicator knows that keeping emotion and opinions out of the equation are far more effective. She starts by praising any good points then gently suggests changes for the next time round. This works just as well when carrying out performance assessments too.

Finally, don’t forget that an over-reliance on email and technology may destroy the wonderful art of communication. Texts and emails are fine for conveying information but when it comes to actually dealing with more sensitive issues, you just cannot beat a face-to-face conversation. That is why no email Friday is such a great idea.

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“No E-mail Friday helps us to remember we really could go over to that person sitting right over there and collaborate more.”- Sara Roberts, President, Roberts Golden Consulting, San Francisco.

Featured photo credit: VFS Digital Design Mexico Intensive/ Vancouver Film School via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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