Words and phrases play a critical role in the messages we convey, which affects how effectively teams work together.
“We must be intentional in how we communicate,” says Sarita Maybin, a communication expert and author who spoke at the 2021 CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council Virtual Conference Wednesday.
Collaboration is crucial in the workplace. Instead of using phrases that place blame, make demands, or dictate actions, Maybin advises using statements that take ownership, make requests, and seek solutions.
Three ways to do this:
WIIFM is the middle ground and provides reasons why cooperating is beneficial.
“The goal is to move from the bossy side to the collaborative side,” Maybin says.
Being intentional about word choice is even more important as communication shifts online.
“We sometimes don’t meet people in person for a long time after emailing or texting with them,” she says. “How can we make ourselves warm and friendly in our emails? The magic words are ‘thank you’ and ‘please.’”
When crafting an email, Maybin suggests running a “please and thank you” check to make sure you’ve included those phrases. It’s a way to “humanize our emails so you don’t have people thinking you’re cold and brusque.”
When writing an email, pay attention to the words you’re using, Maybin says. Word choice can impact the tone you convey.
Some examples are:
Look at the email and find ways to replace inflammatory words with problem-solving words or other positive, encouraging words that will transform an email from one that sounds mean-spirited and negative into one that has a nicer tone, Maybin says.
“This is the true test of saying what you mean in a nice way,” Maybin says. “When we’re in person we have to think for a minute before we speak. But the luxury of email is that before we hit send, we can look at some words and phrases and make changes.”
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