39 Phrases Everyone Should Know and Use

I remember a visit at the Greyhound depot, pick up a couple of parcels. As I walked through the door, I heard a customer berating an agent in loud and abusive terms. The customer had expected something to be there for pick-up and it wasn’t.

The more the customer screamed and threatened (and it was screaming), the more agitated the agent became. The confrontation resembled a playground fight between two children, not a business transaction.

I felt sorry for the agent. Her manager was sitting in an office behind the service area, aware of what was going on, but not intervening. I wanted to give the manager a boot and say, go out there and support your staff.

The agent also seemed ill-equipped to deal with the situation. If she had any training in dealing with angry customers, it wasn’t apparent from her actions.

A dozen or so years ago, I attend a workshop on interpersonal communication skills. One of the “tools” handed out was this sheet of phrases that could be used to communicate in diverse types of situations.

I’m not suggesting—as the workshop presenter did—that memorizing a sheet of phrases is going to solve all your communication issues. I can’t imagine the Greyhound agent would have been well served by having this list taped to her station, along with a communication flow chart.

Interpersonal communication is too complex to be bound merely by fixed rules. However, effective interpersonal communication skills can be learned and developed.

Any complex skill needs a foundation on which to build. This list of phrases can serve as such a foundation. Look at areas which are weaker communication skills for you and then look at the kinds of phrases you need to add to your lexicon.

Always appropriate

  1. Please
  2. Thank you
  3. You’re welcome

Reaching out to people

  1. Hi, I’m… What’s your name?
  2. Excuse me, I see you every day in the hall and I want to introduce myself. I’m…
  3. I understand how you feel.
  4. I would feel that way too in your situation.
  5. I can see this matter is especially important to you.
  6. This is what I hear you saying.
  7. Tell me more about it.

Cooperating and compromising in a conflict

  1. I gather you don’t agree. What’s the reason for your objection?
  2. Why won’t this work?
  3. I have a problem I’d like to discuss with you.
  4. Let’s talk this over. When is a good time for you?
  5. Let’s see how we can reach our mutual goal.
  6. It’s in our common interest to reach an agreement.
  7. How can I help you meet your needs?

Giving and receiving criticism

  1. It’s important for our relationship that I tell you about an issue that is making it hard for me to work with you.
  2. I’m not blaming you for my feelings. I’m just describing how I feel.
  3. I’m not attacking you as a person; I want to focus on your behaviour that is preventing you from moving ahead.
  4. That never occurred to me, but I’ll give it some thought.
  5. I’ll consider that and get back to you.
  6. Let me think over what you said and then discuss a different approach.

Acknowledging errors and mistakes

  1. I’m sorry.
  2. I was wrong.
  3. I accept responsibility.
  4. Yes, it happened, and it was a mistake.
  5. I don’t have an excuse. I have an explanation if you want to hear it.
  6. You have a right to feel the way you do.
  7. Here’s what I learned from the situation and what I’ll do differently in the future.
  8. We know what the problem is. Let’s focus on solutions.
  9. How would you like the problem resolved?
  10. What do you think a fair solution would be?
  11. Here’s what we can do to correct the problem.

Gossip and rumours

  1. I understand you have been saying…
  2. Do you really mean what I hear you’ve been saying?
  3. I’ve heard that, but it’s just a rumour.
  4. If it’s not true, it won’t be said anymore, will it?
  5. This may be an isolated incident, but I’m going to conduct my relationship with you quite differently from now on.
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How to Manage Your Time with a Journal

Do you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? Are you tired of feeling rushed and frazzled?

Better time management can make you feel as though there actually are enough hours in the day to get everything done and better time management can leave you feeling refreshed — less rushed, less frazzled, less stressed. Time management is an executive function; that is, a skill that uses multiple cognitive functions.

A first step to improving your time management ability is to keep a time journal.

Keeping a time management diary can be a valuable tool to help you to see where the bulk of your time is being spent. If you are constantly being interrupted by phone calls or find yourself surfing the net when you should be working, a time management diary can help you to pinpoint areas where you might need to make adjustments.

Once a year, select a typical week or two and gather data on your regular daily routine. Record your activities in half-hour increments, noting the things that impacted the work flow. Take the data, look for areas where you could improve your use of time and develop a specific action plan to bring about the desired improvements

Gather Data:

Keep a daily time log for one week if you have a somewhat routine schedule and for two weeks if your schedule is less predictable. This will provide information for you to improve your use of time.

  • Select a typical week, (i.e., avoid vacation, sick leave, personal leave, holiday, etc.)
  • Record activities at least every half hour. Be specific. For example, identify visitors and record duration and topics of conversations. (Be honest. Only you will have access to this information.)
  • Write a comment on each activity. Did something take longer than usual? Why? Were you interrupted?
  • At the end of the day note whether this day was typical, busier than usual, or less busy than usual.

Analyze Your Use of Time:

Working with the data gathered, analyze your current use of time. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are there any surprises in my use of time?
  2. Am I spending my time as I think I should be?
  3. Am I wasting time on activities that do not advance me towards my goals?
  4. Is there a balance between the various facets of my life: work, family, play, personal, etc?

Action Plan:

From your analysis, develop specific action plans to bring about the desired improvement in your use of time.

Follow-up:

Six weeks after beginning your time management improvement effort, assess your progress, and determine what work still needs to be done. If you find yourself reverting to time-wasting habits, explore questions like these:

  1. Why am I not spending time the way I want?
  2. Why am I settling for second-best in my priorities?
  3. What changes am I going to make?
Posted in Productivity | Comments Off on How to Manage Your Time with a Journal

3 tips to help support your small business’ road to recovery

(NC) As the COVID-19 vaccine begins to reach Canadian communities, many small business owners are viewing 2021 as the year to shift from crisis response to rebuilding and recovery.

“While the pandemic continues to pose uncertainties, it’s important that business owners do not remain idle,” recommends Lori Darlington, vice president of small business and strategic partnerships at RBC.

“This is a critical moment to proactively reflect and start thinking about changes and actions you can take today to better position your business for the future.”

For those looking to prepare for their small business’ recovery, consider these three tips:

1. Explore all available relief programs.

Many initiatives – including the Canada Emergency Business Account and EDC and BDC Business Credit Availability Program – have updated eligibility requirements throughout the pandemic. Be sure you’ve checked the latest updates as these solutions can provide the critical temporary relief your business may need as vaccines continue to make their way to communities.

2. Speak with financial experts.

Reach out to your financial partner to proactively discuss your cashflow and recovery plans, as well as flexible credit options. Sharing details on your company’s situation will help bank advisors provide financial and business solutions tailored to your unique circumstances.

3. Focus on what you can control.

Take this opportunity to strengthen relationships with your employees, customers, and community by helping to protect their health. In addition to adhering to physical distancing and sanitation requirements, explore resources that may be included in your payroll software or health benefits to support your employees’ mental well-being. Protecting your greatest asset – your human capital – will have a tremendous ripple effect on customer loyalty, brand reputation and operational resilience.

Find more resources at rbc.com/smallbusinessnavigator.

www.newscanada.com

Posted in Management | Comments Off on 3 tips to help support your small business’ road to recovery

Exercises to Improve Your Voice

There are a number of factors that effect the way your voice sounds:

  • Physical – the size and shape of your mouth, nasal passages, vocal chords, etc.
  • Health – your general well-being and the tone of your muscles.
  • Temperament and Personality – the way you respond to things going on around you.
  • Environment – both physical and social.
  • Youthful habits – your vocal behaviour as you were growing up.

Most of these factors can be altered or retrained to improve the quality of voice when you speak.

Here are some basic concepts to improve and develop your voice:

Loosen up

You used your voice freely when you were a child. As you developed “mature” speech, your vocal habits became ruts. You need to go back and revive the freedom in using you voice, exercising your imagination and experimenting:

  • Imitate animals – moo, crow, quack, meow, bark, etc.
  • Imitate musical sounds – a bell, a drum, a trumpet
  • Get your body into it – pretend you are cheering on your favourite team, cheer, encourage, groan.
  • Practice emotion – say good morning as many ways as you can – cheerful, perfunctory, angry, grumpy, etc.

Focus on meaning

Find some passages to read aloud. Before you start, read the passage to yourself and analyze the meaning. Read the passage aloud and try and convey that meaning with your voice: stress the basic thought; the development of the thought; the balance of ideas; any contrasts; etc.

Use your emotions

The physical state which accompanies emotion will help you vocalize. As you read a passage aloud, try and recall a situation where you have had similar feelings.

Practice vocal mechanics

Musicians practice the basics regularly. A pianist has a range of exercises to develop their dexterity, speed, sensitivity. A good speaking voice should also be developed with exercises.

Here is a brief idea of the types of exercises that will improve your voice:

  • Say the OO sound as low-pitched as you can. Slide smoothly up to a higher pitch (think a musical octave) and slide back down to the original pitch.
  • Say the OO sound for a long as you can. Repeat on different pitches. Do the same for the sounds AH, OH and EE.
  • Say the OO sound starting as quietly as you can. Gradually increase the volume, then let the sound get quiet again. Do the same for the sounds AH, OH and EE.

An Internet search on “vocal exercises for speaking” will give you many more exercises from which to choose.

Speakers in the past have worked to improve their voices. It takes time, patience, knowledge, and practice.

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Solving Workplace Problems – The Slacker

Scott Adams has given us the classic workplace slacker in Wally. Wally not only excels at dodging work, he flaunts it. Of course, we laugh at Wally’s “skill-set” because we all know and have worked with a slacker.

There are two types of slackers in most organisations, those who are in over their heads when it comes to getting the job done and those who are just plain lazy. Both types are difficult to deal with and both create morale problems in the workplace.

Regardless of type, slackers have common behaviours:

  • They consistently fail to do what they’re expected to do.
  • They excel at “busy work”.
  • They’re the last to arrive, but the first to leave.
  • They try to pass off tasks to other staff members.
  • They often claim to be “too busy” to help out.
  • They spend lots of time visiting around the office; often interfering with the work of others.
  • They lots of time surfing the web, on personal phone calls or personal e-mail/messaging.

Here are some techniques for dealing with slackers:

  • Talk with them in private about their behaviour, not in the middle of a team meeting.
  • Don’t get angry. Remain calm and objective.
  • Focus on measurable productivity. Don’t blame or accuse.
  • Focus on the behaviour not the personality.
  • Describe the behaviour’s negative impact on the team.
  • Set clear expectations and set up an accountability system to track the expectations. Document the expectations in writing.
  • Get a commitment to changing.

Some questions for consideration. Post your answers in the comments below.

  • Have you dealt with slackers? How?
  • Have you been a slacker?
  • What were the consequences?
  • What made you change your behaviour?
  • Why is it important to avoid being confrontational?
  • What kinds of skills do slackers need to work on? (E.g.: time management.)
Posted in Leadership, Motivation | Comments Off on Solving Workplace Problems – The Slacker

10 Tips for Communicating with Employees

Effective communication is a key skill for supervisors. If a supervisor is unable to deliver a message clearly, it doesn’t matter how good or important the message is, it has no value.

Communication is a continuous process, and good communication provides both quantitative and qualitative input. It serves as a yardstick whereby your employees can measure their progress in terms of meeting their goals and objectives.

Here are some things you can do to make sure you connect effectively with others:
  1. Be clear and specific about what you want. Break the task down into step-by-step procedures.
  2. If you’re unsure whether or not people have really understood you, have them repeat your message using their own words.
  3. Demonstrate or illustrate whenever possible.
  4. For more complex tasks, break-down the instructions to each part of the job.
  5. Use direct and specific language. Say exactly what you mean. Don’t leave people guessing.
  6. Don’t rush your instructions. Clear directions save time.
  7. Avoid misunderstandings by asking employees how they’ll approach the issue or task and why. Have them repeat your instructions when you’re finished.
If you’re receiving directions or new information
  1. Be active. Ask questions. Clarify.
  2. Remain open-minded and patient when you receive instructions from others.
  3. Don’t second-guess or jump ahead of the person giving directions. Listen to the details.
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