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Choosing the right phrases, knowing how to deliver an important message, and giving empowering feedback are essential to leadership. ⁠

Do you know how to do it? 

Here is a simple breakdown to elevate your communication skills. These are phrases you could use in your everyday dialogue with your team.

Picking the right moment phrases:

  • You asked me to look at ____, is now a good moment to talk about it?
  • Are you interested in some feedback on …?
  • Would you like a few pointers on your … ?
  • Are you open to talking about this right now?
  • Are you available for a conversation about….?
  • Are you up for a chat about…..?

Talking about improvements

After you’ve delivered your feedback the question is: Where does it go from here? Here are some phrases that you can use to ask for ideas or make suggestions: “Powerful Questions will get you there!!!”

  • Have you got any ideas on how could you do this differently in future?
  • How do you suggest improving on this next time?
  • What could you do to … ?
  • How else could you … ?
  • Can you think of any alternatives … ?
  • Have you considered…?
  • What do you think about…?

4 powerful phrases for work:

“I see where you’re going with this … “

“Here’s what I need you to improve.”

“We are off to a great start.”

“This is really creative. Let’s look if we can fine-tune your approach.”

Communicating what we need can be hard.

Making clear requests isn’t always easy. ⁠ I find it super helpful to utilize “I” statements⁠ to communicate my feelings about someone’s actions that trigger me and then follow them up with a clear ask to meet my needs.

Here is the formula:

“I” feel [emotion] when [situation/context/challenge]  ”  “Ask for what I need in one sentence”

For example:

Situation

“You make me anxious because you never tell me the agenda in advance”

 “I” Statement

“I feel stressed out when you don’t update me on the agenda.”

Ask: 

“Can you please send me the agenda ahead of time? ”

If you wanted to dive a little deeper into this I highly recommend using the 4 Steps of Nonviolent Communication: 

PRACTICING NONVIOLENT COMMUNICATION

When practicing nonviolent communication to create successful work relationships, you integrate consciousness, language, communication, and means of influence.

These four steps are:

  1. Observation: This is where you learn state observations without judgment. You want to state simple facts you have observed. For example, instead of saying, “You never pay attention when I’m speaking,” you can say, “When we spoke earlier, I noticed that you were on your phone.”
  2. Feelings: Take responsibility for your feelings, filters, and experiences. What someone says or does can trigger a feeling inside of you, they are not the cause. For example: “When I hear you say____, I feel ____because I need ____.” By connecting your feelings with your needs you make it easier for the other partner to respond compassionately.
  3. Needs: This is where you learn to make the connection between your feelings and unmet needs.  You want to expand your vocabulary of feeling words as they give you a more nuanced way to describe your needs. This will also allow you to make clear requests of others.
  4. Requests: As a final step you can now make specific, doable requests. They are made in such a way that it enables the person to respond compassionately to the request.

Nonviolent communication is designed to bring people emotionally closer, which isn’t every employee’s goal when they come to work. So it needs to be applied slightly differently in the workplace.

When this simple NVC process is used in the workplace it can help you and your colleagues get along better because it teaches you how to be real and transparent. It allows for greater authenticity and humanizes interactions. It teaches us to listen with empathy. NVC builds trust and understanding which translates into more effective teamwork.

Feedback is a Powerful Tool in Itself

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Remember, do not use negativity during any conversations, as this hinders open communication between you and your employees. 

Always provide positive feedback during the conversation when possible. By focusing on the positive you’ll make your employees feel more confident and improve productivity. Here are some positive examples that can really help you grow as a team…

  • It feels like you are being very generous with your time
  • It seems like you are very happy about this
  • It sounds like this makes you feel very seen

Always provide positive feedback, which is the next step to effective communication. You need to offer something beneficial or uplifting to the communicator that is relevant to what you’re talking about.

If you can make the individual feel good, your interaction will be significantly more productive.

Here is the best way to provide positive affirmation while having a conversation and providing feedback to the person.

  1. Positives –  Start the conversation by focusing on any positives you notice for a given situation. Try and explain that you see their overall contribution and that you value them as a person.
  2. Situation – When delivering feedback, outline the situation you are referring to clearly. Offer specific details so that the other person understands what you’re explaining and ask questions that verify that your information makes sense to them.
  3. Behavior – Then, you must be specific about the behavior you are addressing. Again, be very specific. Do not make assumptions about a person’s behavior and only remark about specific observations that you’ve made yourself.
  4. Impact – To sum up your feedback, carefully explain how the behavior in the situation is affecting you as a person, the people around you, or your team. (It’s often helpful to acknowledge intention even if the unintended consequences or impact was possibly different and potentially negative. Someone can have good intentions and still cause issues, and it’s important to acknowledge those intentions before addressing the problem.)
  5. Solution//Expectattion – Give possible solutions, At the end of giving feedback, it’s important to offer a clear way forward to resolve the issue. Teach, don’t criticize. Set very clear expectations with accountabilities. Make it into a teachable moment. It’s important to suggest improvements for the future in a motivating, respectful, and positive way.

Examples of providing positive feedback, even in situations where it might not be as positive as you’d like:

Start by mentioning the positives

You can use phrases such as the following to introduce praise, to talk about strong points and aspects which you feel the recipient handled well.

  • I thought … was very effective.
  • I really like the way you …
  • I appreciate it when you….
  • I can see you’ve put a lot of work into …
  • What I liked most about …

Describing negative points you observed when you describe the situation and behavior

To avoid sounding reproachful, accusatory, or even aggressive use neutral language and describe what you observed as specifically as possible.

  • When you did X…., I noticed that …
  • At several points during the conversation, I noticed that you …
  • When I read your email, I didn’t quite understand …
  • It seems to me that …
  • It seems you feel  …

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Explaining the (possible) impact

You can use the following phrases to explain what effect the behavior mentioned had on you or what effect you fear it may have had or will have on others.

  • This meant that I …
  • For me, this came across as being …
  • This annoyed/surprised / confused me, because …
  • I’m worried that this will lead to /result in …
  • I think there’s a risk that …

Talking about improvements

After you’ve delivered your feedback the question is: Where does it go from here? Here are some phrases that you can use to ask for ideas or make suggestions: “Powerful Questions will get you there!!!”

  • Have you got any ideas on how could you do this differently in future?
  • How do you suggest improving on this next time?
  • What could you do to … ?
  • How else could you … ?
  • Can you think of any alternatives … ?
  • Have you considered…?
  • What do you think about…?

Remember, in most situations, the other person has nothing wrong with them and that most problems arise from poor communication, not from poor intentions.

Organizing and having clear expectations that align with your company’s values will help the communication not just do better, but excel. This, in turn, helps your team grow and provide value to the company.

FAQ

Should I always give feedback?

You don’t always have to give feedback, but it is recommended that you acknowledge and let the other person know your stance. It is important to have a two-sided conversation.

Will I have any effect on the other person I am talking to?

Yes. You will end up having an impact on them during any difficult conversations. How you conduct the conversation will determine the type of impact that happens.

Will difficult conversations end up easier with time?

Absolutely. You will end up getting better at difficult (and all) conversations the more you have them. Effective communication doesn’t happen overnight.

HOW CAN EXECUTIVE COACHES HELP WITH EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION?

Effective communication doesn’t happen overnight and if you’re looking to be a stronger, better leader then having an executive coach to help with this can mean everything. Not only can you get stronger with your communication, but you can totally kick ass as a leader with what you do and where you work. If you want this, then I can help! Ask me how!