1. "Here's what I'm thinking."
Shows they're in charge, but that statement doesn't mean you're smarter, savvier, or more insightful than everyone else. You just have to back up your statements and decisions. Give reasons. Justify with logic, not with position or authority.
Though taking the time to explain your decisions opens those decisions up to discussion or criticism, it also opens up your decisions to improvement.
Authority can make you "right," but collaboration makes everyone right--and makes everyone pull together.
2. "I was wrong."
Coming up with what may have seemed to be an awesome plan, say for instance, to improve overall productivity by moving a crew to a different shift on an open production line. Could end up causing inconvenience to the crew that's pretty considerable, yet on paper, it was perfect.
In practice, it wasn't.
So, SAY you were wrong.
You may feel terrible or even stupid. You may even think those around you lost respect they had for you.
Probably will turn out you're wrong about that, too. Truth is, you may find that the fact you were willing to admit you were wrong told tells them something much more about your character!
When you're wrong, say you're wrong. You won't lose respect--you'll gain it.
3. "That was awesome."
No one gets enough praise. No one. Pick someone--pick anyone--who does or did something well and say, "Wow, that was great how you..."
And feel free to go back in time. Saying "Earlier, I was thinking about how you handled that employee issue last month..." can make just as positive an impact today as it would have then. (It could even make a bigger impact, because it shows you still remember what happened last month, and you still think about it.)
Praise is a gift that costs the giver nothing but is priceless to the recipient. Start praising. The people around you will love you for it--and you'll like yourself a little better, too.
4. "You're welcome."
Think about a time you gave a gift and the recipient seemed uncomfortable or awkward. Their reaction took away a little of the fun for you, right? It totally does for me!
The same thing can happen when you are thanked or complimented or praised. Don't spoil the moment or the fun for the other person. The spotlight may make you feel uneasy or insecure, but all you have to do is make eye contact and say, "Thank you." Or make eye contact and say, "You're welcome. I was glad to do it."
Don't let thanks, congratulations, or praise be all about you. Make it about the other person, too.
5. "Can you help me?"
When you need help, regardless of the type of help you need or the person you need it from, just say, sincerely and humbly, "Can you help me?"
You'll get help and in the process you'll show vulnerability, respect, and a willingness to listen--which, by the way, are all qualities of a great leader.
And are all qualities of a great friend.
6. "I'm sorry."
Though the example of this in the work place is huge, this is monumentous in our personal relationships too! We all make mistakes, so we all have things we need to apologize for: words, actions, omissions, failing to step up, step in, show support...
Say you're sorry.
Expers say you should never follow an apology with a disclaimer like "But I was really mad, because..." or "But I did think you were..." or any statement that in any way places even the smallest amount of blame back on the other person.
Say you're sorry, say why you're sorry, and take all the blame. No less. No more.
Then you both get to make the freshest of fresh starts.
7. "Can you show me?"
Advice is temporary; knowledge is forever. Knowing what to do helps, but knowing how or why to do it means everything.
When you ask to be taught or shown, several things happen: You implicitly show you respect the person giving the advice; you show you trust his or her experience, skill, and insight; and you get to better assess the value of the advice.
Don't just ask for input. Ask to be taught or trained or shown.
Then you both win.
8. "Let me give you a hand."
Many people see asking for help as a sign of weakness. So, many people hesitate to ask for help.
But everyone needs help.
Don't just say, "Is there anything I can help you with?" Most people will give you a version of the reflexive "No, I'm just looking" reply to sales clerks and say, "No, I'm all right."
Be specific. Find something you can help with. Say "I've got a few minutes. Can I help you finish that?" Offer in a way that feels collaborative, not patronizing or gratuitous. Model the behavior you want your employees to display.
Then actually roll up your sleeves and help.
9. "I love you."
No, not at work, but everywhere you mean it--and every time you feel it! (I always think of the old Garth Brooks song).
Boy! I've been working hard to perfect this one... Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing. If you're upset, frustrated, or angry, stay quiet. You may think venting will make you feel better, but it never does.
That's especially true where your employees or co-workers are concerned. Results come and go, but feelings are forever. Criticize an employee in a group setting and it will seem like he eventually got over it, but inside, he never will. Zig Ziglar used to say, "It is better to Respond, rather than React!"
Before you speak, spend more time considering how employees will think and feel than you do evaluating whether the decision makes objective sense. You can easily recover from a mistake made because of faulty data or inaccurate projections.
You'll never recover from the damage you inflict on someone else's self-esteem!
Be quiet until you know exactly what to say--and exactly what affect your words will have. I'd love you to share what have you learned from the extraordinary people in your life?