First impressions can lead to lasting impressions. So to improve, a lot of people these days tell you to dress better, read more (so you’ll have interesting things to talk about), and ensure that your online presence is respectable (because many people will check you out online before meeting in person). Really?
How far will that get you? Despite what many people would like to believe, the things you say often make an even greater early impression than the things you do or even wear. To take advantage of that and get you started easily, here are the essential words you should use with focused genuineness – grouped into a handful of 10 easy phrases – that you should make a habit of saying every day. They’re virtually guaranteed to improve your standing with others if you use them often enough.
Phrase Number 1: Salutations using “Sir” and “ma’am”
American culture is pretty informal compared to many other places in the world, but a little bit of formality can really make you stand out in a positive way. I remember this from the military, and also from having extensive experience in many formal service positions and organization (politics included). These are environments in which people use the titles “Sir” and “Ma’am” constantly – not just in talking with high ranking military officers, but also addressing every civilian, regardless of social “rank.”
This doesn’t work in every situation, but using these titles can be a sign of respect that gets people’s attention. It can be important in professional relationships, especially when dealing with people you don’t know well, and who are older or more experienced than you.
Phrase Number 2: “Thank you.”
I don’t really have to explain this, do I? The Bottom Line is that it is not used often enough, or in truly genuine tone to meet the minimal standards of common social decency.
Phrase Number 3: “You’re welcome.”
Sometime in fairly recent history it seems people stopped saying, “You’re welcome,” and started substituting, “Yep,” or, “No problem.” At the risk of sounding older than I am, I think this is a step in the wrong direction–at least in a business or professional setting.
Why? Because ditching “you’re welcome” for these other phrases changes the message. “You’re welcome” acknowledges that you’ve done something worth someone else’s thanks, while “no problem” suggests that it wasn’t that big of a deal. Saying the former phrase conveys that you think it was a worthwhile favor. That’s an impressive message to send.
Phrase Number 4: “My pleasure.”
Another way to infer “you’re welcome” and add significant personal meaning (the “glue” of emotional exchange, the critical element in relationships — because that is what we are doing here, establishing a relationship) is to interchange it with “my pleasure” to hint at the tremendous value you place on expressing your character with your behavior, which in this case, is something esteemable by all accounts.
Phrase Number 5: “Here’s what’s happening.”
If you’ve ever worked in an environment in which people guarded information like a valuable commodity, you’ll appreciate how much affinity you develop for the few people who try to keep everyone else accurately informed.
Of course you don’t want to be a know-it-all or spread rumors. However, even if you don’t know the full story, being willing to share the information you have that affects others’ lives can make you instantly more likable.
It cannot be stressed enough that when using these words, that you are doing so without malicious intent, as in manipulating social dynamics or to elevate one’s self without merit. Also, it must be used carefully, as when used talking to consumers, for example, as it may suggest there are cliques or distinct mentalities within the organization with differing agendas. Not good for expressing universal transparency or irreproachable integrity …
Phrase Number 6: “How can I help?”
Nobody accomplishes anything amazing alone. Thus, with the exception of the sociopaths among us, we’re all eventually grateful to those who help us achieve great things. I think we’re especially grateful to those who proactively try to help.
This doesn’t mean you have to go way out of your way to offer assistance, but it’s often the case that you have access to something or the ability to do something that won’t take much on your part, but that can really have a positive impact on someone else’s success.
Phrase number 7: “I’ll find out.”
This is one of my favorite phrases. It’s related to “how can I help,” but is even more proactive. It says that you’re not only willing to offer assistance, but that you’re willing to go out of your way to do so. It demonstrates that you “own” the situation, and are taking personal responsibility for it – something that is seen as siding with the person you have pledged to serve. Earning the hearts of others by way of empathetic endeavor is always a good thing!
(By the way, this helpful phrase is also the diametric opposite of the most bureaucratic phrase known to humankind, uttered incessantly by some of the least likable people: “That’s not my job.” I’ve fired people on the spot for using this when they thought no one could hear them.)
Phrase Number 8: “I believe in you.”
Henry Ford recalled that when he was still an unknown, and was working on gasoline engines, a few short words of encouragement from an already famous Thomas Edison were a massive shot in the arm.
Phrase Number 9: “Your confidence means a lot.”
Everyone wants to know that they have impact, and to be outwardly reminded that they have had a positive, noticed impact is like putting a feather in their cap. They will always remember what was shared, and will keep that simple praise you offered as a favorite memory, especially when telling the story to whomever will listen.
It also speaks volumes on the kind of relationships you build, as whenever you create genuine shared exchanges that are memorably elevating, they will become rich and solid ground for future benefit (read in here “building loyalty”).
Phrase Number 10: “I appreciate all you have done.”
Not just another way of saying “Thank you.” this speaks directly to a depth of understanding the other person, their intent, and the totality of their efforts and heaps praise on them for going beyond the normal expectations. This type of acknowledgement is testament to the reality of your relationship, and is the type of sharing of minds (and hearts) that cements them in direct proportion to the sincerity it was offered.
It’s amazing how just a little bit of validation from other people can inspire people to work harder and achieve more. Four short words can have a huge, positive impact–both for the people you’re encouraging, and for their feelings toward you.
Try It – You’ll Like It!