Make the Connection

9 phrases that improve communication (and therefore connection) at work.

We may not like to admit it, but many of us have done it – started an email to a colleague with ‘as per my previous email’ or ‘as previously stated’. Even though a part of us knows we’re being sarcastic and passive aggressive, we do it anyway.

This type of communication only serves to break connections, and broken connections lead to all sorts of awkwardness, miscommunications, dramas and mishaps – and who needs that at work? Rather than use words and phrases that create disconnection, use those that help to improve communication, boost productivity, increase connection and foster a more compassionate work culture.

Here are nine phrases that do just that:

‘Hello’ and ‘goodbye’

Simple as this seems, acknowledging your co-workers at the beginning and end of the day is an easy, yet very effective way to create a connection. For some people, a lack of ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ signals disrespect (even if it’s not meant that way).

‘How are you doing?’

A recent EY Belonging Barometer study showed that 39% of respondents felt the greatest sense of belonging when their colleagues checked in with them regularly. This goes deeper than simply saying “how are you?” in a rhetorical way – it means actually checking in to find out how he or she is.

‘Thank you’

Many people shy away from showing real gratitude for help or guidance at work. Phrases like ‘thank you’ and ‘I appreciate you’ may sound too simple to really be impactful, but letting others know they are appreciated can enhance performance and forge closer connections.

‘I’m sorry’

The same goes for apologising – many of us loathe having to admit to making a mistake or saying we’re sorry, but showing accountability builds trust, and trust goes a long way to strengthening connection.

‘How can we resolve this?’

If you find yourself in disagreement with a colleague and your discussion feels like it’s reaching a stalemate or becoming more heated, consider the simple question above. It shows that you are willing to compromise and invites the other party to offer a solution, rather than continuing to talk in circles.

‘How can I support you?’

You may chat to a colleague or subordinate who starts to complain about a situation. Instead of lamenting with or ignoring them, consider asking how you can support them. As an example:

Manager: How are you doing?

Staff member: So busy, super stressed!

Manager: How can I support you?

Staff member: If there’s any chance I can skip the staff meeting today, it would help enormously.

Manager: No problem – I’ll get James to send you the minutes afterwards.

‘Can I pick your brain about something?’

Everyone likes to feel appreciated for their unique skills or knowledge. A great way to build a connection at work is to ask a colleague or manager for their insight.

‘Is there a better time for me to ask you about this?’

This is a useful phrase if you need information, but get the sense that your colleague is busy or unwilling to help you at that point in time. It’s a connecting phrase because you’re acknowledging that he or she is busy, while at the same time getting a commitment for a time.

We are not always going to agree – or even get along – with our co-workers, but better connections make for a far more pleasing and productive workplace. It’s also surprisingly easy to form connections when it is our true intention to do so.

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