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Steer clear of these 4 phrases

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Respectful communication enhances your leadership. By leveling with people and radiating authenticity, you can deliver even bad news without rupturing your relationships at work.

Here are four phrases that can undermine your reputation—and how to avoid them.

1.“Sounds like a personal problem.” You can’t shut the door on people who face personal issues. Instead, show interest and at least try to understand the employee’s perspective.

Once you listen, it’s fine to reply, “I’m not able to help with that.” But consider what resources you can suggest, such as an Employee Assistance Program.

2.“It’s work. It’s not meant to be fun.” While you cannot guarantee that every task will prove joyful to every employee, insisting that people hunker down won’t endear you to them. No one wants to sacrifice fun for eight or more hours a day.

When you need to delegate a dreary assignment, acknowledge that the task “may not be as fun as some of the other things we do.” That signals it’s an anomaly.

3.“I’ll take it under advisement.” Employees want to know where they stand. If they propose an idea, respond forthrightly.

Talking like a bureaucrat will alienate you from your staff. They’ll conclude that you aren’t listening and don’t plan on following up.

4.“I don’t care about your priorities. This is your new priority.” When you make “drop everything” commands, you come across as weak and reactive. And you risk injecting a sense of crisis that can spread among the rank-and-file.

It’s better to explain how a new development influences what matters most. Help people see the fluid nature of critical priorities so that they appreciate the complexities you face.

—Adapted from “10 Things Only Lousy Managers Say,” Liz Ryan, www.forbes.com.

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