Effective communication is an important skill for all of us, but it’s a crucial competency for leaders. Literally, the words a leader uses have a powerful influence over his or her team members’ motivation, productivity, mindset, and overall employee experience.
The best leaders recognize that effective communication is not about long eloquent speeches or more meetings. Emotionally intelligent leaders who inspire an engaged workforce and nurture a healthy work environment know that the language they use sets the tone for the culture of the entire organization.
A recent international study reported that 77% of adults would consider a company's culture before applying for a job there. It's not only about which company offers the best cereal bar or how many foosball tables they can fit into the break room. Healthy company culture comes from the top and is enforced at all levels of the organization – often expressed in the words we say and hear – or not.
5 phrases that should be staples in every organizational lexicon.
The first two are easy. Please and thank you are among the first words we're taught as toddlers. Using these words shows you have good manners and they communicate politeness and respect. But they also acknowledge others as being seen, heard and valued.
The third is I’m sorry. Sincere apologies can be tough because they require an honest look at our own fallibilities and the humility to own up to them. None of us want to show our weaknesses or admit our mistakes. But we’ve all done and said things we wish we could do over in a much more thoughtful way. It actually takes a very strong person to admit to messing up and apologizing for words or actions. And a simple apology – delivered and accepted – is one of the best ways to strengthen the human connection.
Number 4 is I can help. Life gets busy and most of us have a million things bouncing around our brains. But people who say I can help frequently get in the habit of looking for ways to help - to making someone else’s life a little easier and the world a little better. It’s not hard and all of us have the capacity to do it, but it takes attention and intention.
Finally, the last phrase is I need help. None of us are immune to stress and worry and the inevitable potholes and detours of life. We all need a little help sometimes. But asking for help requires vulnerability and humility and most of all trust that we’re safe enough to admit we need it.
Five simple phrases – phrases we learn in kindergarten that have become so elusive to some in the workplace. Organizations with healthy, collaborative cultures use them frequently and sincerely to cultivate respect, trust, inclusivity and belonging.