More than ever, words matter. Workplace morale and employee retention are strongly connected to how people are treated and how their supervisors and colleagues make them feel. It’s important to think about words and phrases you use that could unintentionally hurt motivation, confidence, and engagement:
- “You can do better than that.” This invalidates what the person is doing and comes across as patronizing and critical. If your goal is to inspire someone, try something like, “I am confident that you will do your best on this project.”
- “Right…Now back to the matter at hand.” Instead of dismissing a person’s unrelated idea, promise to get back it after you finish discussing the issue on the table.
- “I actually like that idea.” Never act like you’re surprised that someone has a good idea. If you do, they’ll likely never to share another one with you.
- “Everyone knows that.” This is belittling and inaccurate. You don’t know what everyone knows. Instead, lead the discussion to what isn’t known or what people need to know.
- “Good luck with that.” As a rule, this comes across as sarcastic; and it suggests that you lack confidence in the person to succeed. Instead, consider saying, “Feel free to reach out if you need any help or hit any barriers.”
- “You’re missing my point.” This puts the blame for a misunderstanding on the other person. Instead, think about saying, “Let me phrase that another way to make my point clearer.”