CategoryWorkplace Reputation

5 Phrases to Stop Using in 2017

Words matter.

As someone who loves writing and spent decades in nerdy activities like theater and debate club, I know words matter.

And I know verbal fillers are often a hindrance to us and our messages being taken seriously.

A couple times a year, I reflect on the words I use frequently and eliminate phrases I believe have potential to hurt my message or my reputation.

I’ve shared thoughts on this before:

Here are the 5 phrases I’m eliminating from my lexicon in 2017:

  • “Let me know if there are any questions” … This phrase is passive-aggressive and unnecessary. If you’ve created a culture where professional curiosity and clarity is welcomed, you shouldn’t need to give people permission to ask questions. If that isn’t your organization’s culture, work on that — starting with letting the passive-aggressive phrases go.
  • “I think” … This phrase is self-defeating and unnecessary. If you are speaking or writing, it is safe to say the words are your thoughts. If they weren’t you’d say “Bob thinks” or “Jane thinks”. By classifying your thoughts as your own, you actually damage your credibility and appear to lack confidence. If you cannot speak with confidence and credibility, it is always best to be quiet.
  • “Basically” and “Accordingly” … These are passive-aggressive words masking as authoritative words. Authority doesn’t have to assert itself. If you have it, everyone will know and behave accordingly 😉
  • “The problem is” … If you’re using this phrase, it better be followed up by a recommended solutions. Otherwise, you look whiny and incapable. Or worse — you look unwilling or uncaring. Build your reputation as a problem solver, not a problem proclaimer.
  • “I’ll try” or “I’ll do my best” … Just like “I think,” this is self-defeating and unnecessary. You should always be trying and/or doing your best. When you declare it on certain occasions, it calls your efforts at other times into  question. And it makes you appear to lack confidence in your abilities.

What we say has power over ourselves and others. Don’t let that power work against you. Be mindful of these phrases and others that are working contrary to your goals.

Change your language. Change your life.

The 5 Phrases That Are Hurting Your Reputation

On average, we deal with over 100 email messages in our inbox every day. More and more, we rely on our emails to document and track communication between us and the people we work with and for. Knowing this, sometimes, we go too far or not far enough in choosing our words.

Here are the 5 phrases you’re using that’s hurting your reputation:

  1. “As You Know” … If I know, it comes across snide and condescending. If I don’t know, it comes across judgmental and rude.
  2. “Thanks, but” … This phrase is usually followed by something that negates any gratitude. If you really were thankful, it doesn’t look like it.
  3. “… and so on and so forth” … No one knows what this really means. It always comes across presumptive and dismissive. Arguably inarticulate and lazy.
  4. “If you would be so kind as to” … This paints me into a no-win corner where either I have to do what, when and how you ask or be a jerkface. It’s polite bullying.
  5. “If I don’t hear back from you, I will assume” … This is demanding and slightly menacing.

Everyone sets out to be seen as a supportive, helpful professional at work. At times, we fall short of this at times in moments of frustration, stress or weakness. No one is perfect; it is understandable.

This should be the exception in your communication, though, not the rule. If you’re regularly using these kinds of phrases, it’s time to make a change. Skip the passive-aggressive lead-ins and lead-ons — and just get to the point of what you want to say candidly, directly and tactfully.

  • Instead of saying “As you know”, try “I am writing about the issue with X” instead. This approach is direct and unassuming. If you’re really not sure if the person knows about it, give a brief synopsis of the issue before moving into your questions or requests.
  • Instead of “Thanks, but”, try “Thank you!” followed by a brand new sentence or paragraph about whatever additional thing is needed. This will not overshadow or erase your gratitude … Unless you’re really not thankful. If you’re not, don’t say “thanks” at all. No one like gratuitous gratitude.
  • Instead of “and so on and so forth”, try a brief explanation of what the so on and so forth is. Never assume the reader has all the same knowledge that you have. Use your message share information.
  • Instead of “if you would be so kind”, just state what you need. And why.
  • Instead of “if I don’t hear from you, I will assume”, just state the deadline for a response. And why. If the deadline is a short one, you may even want to pick up that old 19th century device called a telephone to let the person know that you sent an urgent email.

Because we send email to communicate, discuss, resolve and document the things that occur in our workplaces. If the communication isn’t clear, it will lead to unnecessary complications and confusion — and, if it comes down to it, will not withstand legal scrutiny.

Clear. Concise. Candid. Always in all ways.

Are there more passive-aggressive email phrases you’d like to see on this list? Tell me about it!

How To Delegate Effectively – Part 2

Last week, over at Performance I Create, I wrote a post entitled “How To Delegate Effectively.” This week, I’m continuing my advice on how to effectively delegate here.

In part 1 at PIC, the focus was on the reasons to delegate and ensuring clear understanding of tasks delegated.

In part 2, the focus is on the who of delegating effectively.

The hardest part of delegating is believing the other person can carry the task through to completion with the level of excellence you envision and expect. You have to be confident in your own decision-making as well as the abilities of others. Trust is the heart of how to delegate effectively.

When deciding who to delegates tasks to, consider the following:

  • Their knowledge. The person should have an appropriate level of knowledge and the skills needed to complete the task assigned. Without this, the person will struggle and the work will suffer.
  • Their independence. The person should be able to organize, execute and troubleshoot their way through completion of the task assigned without constant supervision. Without this, both you and the person will feel frustrated and the work will be delayed.
  • Their goals. The person should have an interest in the subject matter of the task — or the task should be related to the work the person currently performs in his/her job role. Without this, the person will either be unenthusiastic or distracted and the work will suffer.
  • Their workload. The person’s workload should allow sufficient time to complete the task assigned within time and budget constraints. Without this, both you and the person will feel stressed and the work will be delayed.

Another thing to consider is the position of the person respective to you. Delegation happens laterally or down. Never up. I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you but delegating upward is just whining. It demonstrates lack of accountability, creativity, resilience and vigor.

Do not do it.

That’s not to say that people who aren’t the boss don’t get overwhelmed or need help and guidance. It happens to people every day. However, when that happens, you cannot just give work back to your boss. Don’t just bring uncompleted tasks to the table — bring suggestions on who and how to get the work done in a way that results in effective delegating.

Because when delegating is done with the right spirit, everyone wins.

What is HR Thirsty For?

I attended a HR luncheon not too long ago. I arrived early and found no one there I knew. Instead of going into introvert mode, I decided to sit down at a table, join the conversation and try to make some new connections. Here’s what I walked in on …

“It’s been over a year of the same thing now. I keep telling them what they need to do to make things better around here. They don’t want to listen to me. I don’t feel like they value my input at all.”

“I totally understand what you mean. It’s the same at my job. I’m not even invited to their meetings anymore. They can’t handle the truth about what needs to happen to fix the mess they’ve made.”

I just sat there, feeling out of place and uncomfortable and praying they wouldn’t ask me to join the conversation.

They didn’t. And they didn’t introduce themselves either. They just kept talking about how horrible it was their companies wouldn’t give HR the attention and opportunity it deserved.

One might say they sounded really … thirsty!!

Yep. I’m using urban slang to describe a HR phenomenon. Again …Don’t judge. Keep reading.

The urban dictionary defines thirsty as “eager to get attention; to crave spotlight; desperate to be chosen”

Sound familiar? It should … In many organizations, HR feels unheard, undervalued and marginalized in their role. Like the people at that luncheon table, lots of HR professionals go to work every day seeking the attention of senior management, the spotlight of business and are desperate to be chosen to lead organizational change.

I’m not going to go into the reasons why HR should be involved in the strategic planning of business. It is well documented that organizations who utilize HR in a strategic capacity are more financially successful and maintain a more positive reputation and healthier working environment than those who marginalize HR to traditional, administrative functions.

What I am going to go into is what HR should stop doing that makes them look thirsty.

  • Stop openly criticizing the decision-makers … Just because you aren’t part of the discussions doesn’t mean you get to nit-pick all the ideas and efforts. Give the benefit of the doubt, even if the analysis missed some stuff. Besides, it only leads to you being more left out of the team.
  • Stop threatening litigation … Telling the organization not to do something that’s good for progress because there’s an off-chance they might get sued is not helpful. Mitigating and defending the company’s decisions is part of your job — so do it! Besides, it only makes it look like you’re afraid to fight.
  • Stop saying people are going to be unhappy and quit … Turnover is necessary and not always a bad thing. There’s a huge difference between normal and the truly negative trends. Make sure you know and speak about the difference. Besides, it only makes it look like you’re the one who is unhappy.

Instead, try doing more of the stuff like this:

Start showing enthusiasm for proposed changes. Be excited for the opportunity that a new project brings and seek partnerships across functions and departments to make it successful.

Start proposing the changes you want to see. Not suggesting or guilting or badgering — but legitimately proposing. Provide full, comprehensive analysis and recommendations for the improvements you believe in.

HR must open its mouth to say something other than “no” and “that won’t work’. We must talk about what’s possible and how we are going to get it done.

Because, while HR is often waiting on the organization to listen, the organization is waiting on HR to talk … Holla back!


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