20 Phrases to Get You Through ANYTHING at Work
Saying the right thing, at the right moment, with the right tone, is almost as valuable as being often mistaken for Scarlett Johansson. Actually, these phrases will pay off no matter how your hair is behaving as you now have precision tools to move any conversation in a productive direction.
1. When you’re in a conversation and you can’t think of what to say: That’s so interesting. Tell me more.
2. When the other person is confusing or not taking responsibility: Help me understand how that happened.
3. When you need your employee (or offspring) to step up and do something: So what are you going to do to … (fill in your success imperative)?
- So, what are you going to do to be on time while the construction is going on?
- So, what are you going to do to not forget your lunch again?
- So, what are you going to do to keep a good attitude when we tried this before and it didn’t work?
4. When someone is complaining to you or around you: How can I help?
5. When someone admits to underperforming in some way (This is rare so enjoy the moment.): What could you change to ensure your success in the future?
6. When you want to have a productive one-on-one with an employee: What has been the most challenging part of your week?
7. When you are accused of playing favorites (This practice is also known as “working with the willing.”): Absolutely! Would you like to be one?
8. When you want to improve a work relationship: How can I better communicate with you?
9. When your performance review is 3 months away: Boss, what would you like for me to do differently? So, Boss, is there anything I can do differently to get better results?
Then recall and use this conversation when you do have that performance review.
10. When you’re about to begin a presentation: I’m so excited to be here with you.
11. When you’re giving your presentation and someone asks you a question you don’t know the answer to:
- Thank you so much for this great question. I want to give you a complete answer and I don’t have all the pieces for that right now. I will get you that answer and…..(let them know by when and how you will get them the right answer.)
- I don’t know. Does anyone in the room know the answer to this great question?
12. When you want others to speak up at a meeting: What other perspectives do we have in this room?
13. When you want to exit a conversation: It’s been so fun chatting with you. I look forward to seeing you again some time.
14. When someone interrupts you: Smile first. As I was saying…. then continue with what you were saying.
15. When you call someone by the wrong name: Own it graciously.
- I’m so sorry, I can’t even get my own children’s names straight. Thank you for setting me straight (if they correct you.)
- If you don’t have children… I’d very much like to be an ostrich right now and bury my head firmly in the sand, but since there is no sand around here, I’ll just apologize. I am truly sorry for getting your name wrong. I hate when I do that.
16. When someone wants your professional services for free: Thanks so much for thinking of me. It means a lot that you want my help with … (that thing they want your help with). While I’d love to help, I’m quite busy right now and usually charge … (your project or hourly rate) for (the service they want). I am not able to take on pro bono work at this moment. If you still want to move forward then the next step is X. (X is what your paying customers do.)
17. When you want to turn down a work project for whatever reason: Thanks so much for getting in touch. It seems like you’re interested in (service description) to help you with your (business / store / new home), right? That actually falls just outside the scope of my professional sweet spot. Here at Business Name, I focus primarily on … (what you focus on). That means I’m going to have to thoughtfully (and respectfully) decline this opportunity. That said, there are a few professionals I deeply respect who I think would do an excellent job for you: (insert one or two referrals).
18. When a prospective client wants to know your hourly rate and you prefer to price your services in packages: Thank you so much for getting in touch. Let’s do this: Why don’t you fill me in on more of the details so I can give you an accurate estimate? What kind of timeline are we talking about? What’s the big picture vision? How can I best help you?
19. When someone compliments you for something that embarrasses you: Thank you so much. How kind of you to notice.
20. When you have to give someone very constructive feedback: I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them.
Enjoy! If I missed your unique communication conundrum, let me know and I’ll send you a custom-tailored phrase for your next sticky situation!