6 Phrases That Make You a Better Communicator

4 minutes

Seeing “several people are typing…” in a Slack channel can feel unnerving. We all want to be intentional when crafting messages to our teammates, because we all want to be heard and respected. (And sometimes, that takes writing and revising a message a few times until it’s just right.)  

Communication, whether via instant messages or in a face-to-face meeting, is a crucial professional skill to have. But figuring out the so-perfect wording to get your message across doesn’t need to be intimidating. Ahead are a handful of impactful phrases that will make you a better communicator at work and in life.  

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“What was that like?”  

Why it works: If you tend to zone out during meetings, there are a few active listening strategies that can help you maintain focus. One is asking probing questions that are open-ended, like “What was that like?” or “What sort of impact do you think this will have?” or “Can you tell me more about that?” Unlike clarifying questions that are purely facts-based, probing questions encourage deeper thinking and show the other person that you’re listening to what they’re saying.  

“Your insights are valuable; let’s combine our ideas to find the best path forward.” 

Why it works: This might sound like a no-brainer, but people respond well to positive language because it promotes collaboration and constructive solutions. You don’t have to be overly optimistic and ignore errors or mistakes but the key is to avoid blaming people for problems. This phrase is also something that you can use when you’re drafting an email or written message — you can learn how to elevate your writing in the free course Writing with a Professional Mindset.  

“Have you considered?” 

Why it works: When you disagree with someone’s idea, pay attention to your delivery. To share your opinions and make the other person feel heard, start by summarizing their point and finding something that you agree with and support. Then, use the phrase “have you considered?” to introduce your viewpoint.  

For example, say your teammate recommends JavaScript framework for a new project because it’s widely used and has a robust community of developers. You might say something like: “I see your point about React.js being popular and well-supported, which is definitely important. Have you considered that Vue.js might also be a good option since it integrates well with other libraries and existing projects?” 

“Look how we overcame this obstacle.”  

Why it works: There’s power in telling a story that showcases how you and your teammates overcame a challenge. Next time you have a retrospective meeting to review a project, highlight how you successfully navigated an obstacle. It’ll inspire trust and confidence in your project or team and help your team think of other ways to improve. Not a natural storyteller? In the free course Telling a Business Story, you can learn how to draft and present an effective narrative in a business context. 

“I’m having some trouble understanding your point and really want to ‘get it.’ Can you try to summarize it for me in one sentence?” 

Why it works: This is a great way to tactfully interject when a person is rambling or repeating themselves without making a clear point. If you’re on a video call, consider using the raise hand feature to ask for permission to say something. Or you can say something straightforward like, “May I interrupt?” Don’t feel embarrassed if you don’t understand what someone’s saying. If you’re confused, there’s a very good chance that other people on the call or in the meeting are, too.  

“What I’m hearing you say is… Am I correct?” 

Why it works: Uncovering the emotional meaning behind people’s words is not always straightforward. Say a teammate is venting to you about their frustrations with a project’s deployment process. You could check in by summarizing what they said and articulating the emotions that you’ve picked up on. For example, “What I’m hearing you say is that the volume and pace of the issues made it hard to manage. Am I correct?” This way, the other person has a chance to expand upon what they’re feeling, and you can double check that you understand what they’re saying.  

Learn effective communication skills today 

Check out our free professional skills courses to learn skills like communication, business strategy, leadership, and productivity. These “people” skills will help you get in the door during job interviews, make an impression at job interviews, and ultimately become a reliable and productive team member.  

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