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5 Words You Should Say Every Day

5 Words You Should Say Every Day

Leadership impact comes in the context of the mundane. Every day little words inspire connection more than any grand speech you could deliver. It’s what you say when you think it doesn’t matter that matters. They notice the way you answer the phone, or your reaction in the hallway.

“Every day brings new choices”
~ Martha Beck

The choices you make when you’re excited, rushed, tired, hungry, annoyed, eager – all matter. Choose wisely. The daily cadence of great leadership seldom feels remarkable.

5 Words You Say Every Day

Small interactions add up. The simplest words prove most useful. In fact they’re tough to over use.

  1. Help – Help is one of the most under-leveraged words in leadership. “How can I best help?” “What help do you need?” “Who else can be helpful?” Just as importantly is asking for help as needed. Being both helpful and helped each day builds genuine connections and does wonders productivity.
  2. Thanks – Not just casual, in passing kind of thanks..but a genuine pause of appreciation. Work to truly thank and appreciate at least one person every day.
  3. Because – It’s easy to assume your team understands your rationale or thinking. What may seem obvious to you often gets lost in translation, particularly if there are a few degrees of separation. “We’re doing this because”, “I need this information because”, “Your work is so important because”, “He was selected for this project because”.
  4. Why – Just as important as explaining the “because” is asking “why?” A curious and kind tone is particularly vital here. “Why do we do it that way?” “Why is this the priority?” “Why are you interested in that new job?” Great leaders ask “why” more than most.
  5. Who – When leaders move too quickly, important “whos” get lost. “Who should we involve?” “Who does this best?” “Who else needs to know?”
Your turn: What words do you rely on in your daily leadership?
Filed Under:   Communication
 
 
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt is a leadership speaker, consultant, and MBA professor. She's a former Verizon Wireless executive with two decades of diverse cross-functional experience in sales, customer service and HR. Karin was named as a top 100 Thought Leader in Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America. She is author of, "Overcoming an Imperfect Boss: A Practical Guide to Building a Better Relationship With Your Boss." Karin knows the stillness of a yogi, the reflective road of a marathoner and the joy of being a mom raising emerging leaders.
 

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What People Are Saying

Brian Smith   |   28 October 2013   |   Reply

Love all five you posted – I use thanks, because and why most often. I make sure to start the conversation off with a “please”. – Cheers

letsgrowleaders   |   28 October 2013   |   Reply

Brian, so great to see you here. Ahh, yes, please is another vital one.

Dave Bratcher   |   28 October 2013   |   Reply

Great stuff Karin! The correlation between these words is a great reminder to focus outward. Sorry for the hiatus from the LGL community. Why are so many leaders afraid to ask for help?

letsgrowleaders   |   28 October 2013   |   Reply

Dave, I know… I think folks are afraid of looking weak or needy. Bottom line, so much better to get the support you need and do it right… getting a little help early on can save gobs of time.

Steve Borek   |   28 October 2013   |   Reply

I ask lots of What questions. They’re inquiry in nature asking the other person to expand on their thoughts. Most leaders ask close ended questions. Not as powerful.

letsgrowleaders   |   28 October 2013   |   Reply

Steve, Great. I’ve been asking “what” questions all day ;-)

bill holston   |   28 October 2013   |   Reply

Another great article.
Encourage: I believe that people need to hear that their job makes a difference. That every part of the team contributes specifically to good outcomes.
Humor. I use humor alot. We work with immigrant survivors of violence, including torture. We could not sustain without lightening the mood.
Presence. I try to have personal interactions with my small staff daily if possible.
Positive: I believe that while realistic it’s crucial to present a positive face.
and like probably everyone else here:
Servant. Thanks

letsgrowleaders   |   28 October 2013   |   Reply

Bill, You are doing such important work. Thanks for your caring and your continued insights. Namaste.

Alli Polin   |   28 October 2013   |   Reply

I love all five but one more I don’t say enough is YES (but doing it more and more!). The power of yes is huge when we actually empower others to run with their ideas, remove roadblocks and clear the way for really challenging stuff to become tomorrow’s reality.

letsgrowleaders   |   28 October 2013   |   Reply

Alli, YES! Completely agree. Great leaders say yes more.

Bill Benoist   |   28 October 2013   |   Reply

Your words are spot on.

I was just reading an E-Book on Coaching from Harvard Business Review and one of the chapters discussed coaching in 15 minutes or less. All it takes is a couple of minutes out of the day to make a difference. Sometimes, I think leaders forget this.

letsgrowleaders   |   28 October 2013   |   Reply

Bill, That ebook sounds great. lt’s amazing what can be accomplished in concentrated bursts.

Matt McWilliams   |   28 October 2013   |   Reply

“Hello”

To me, my network is truly the reason for my net worth, so I say “hello, how are you?” A LOT.

letsgrowleaders   |   28 October 2013   |   Reply

This has been my year of “hellos.” “hellos” with follow through. Hmm sounds like a post ;-)

Micheline Daoust   |   28 October 2013   |   Reply

Very good words!

I would add POWER – I just like to remind people that they have a lot more power than they usually think they do, and FUN – I often ask: How can we inject a bit of fun in this project or task?

letsgrowleaders   |   28 October 2013   |   Reply

Micheline… beautiful. Two of my favorites. Tune in on Wednesday for more about “fun.”

ali anani   |   28 October 2013   |   Reply

Karin- a super post because you suggest five simple rules. They are not costly, are affordable and impacting. The laziness that make people excellent in turning lights on, but not off are the same reasons that make people procrastinate on turning on their appreciation and revealing their intentions. The other point I would add is that it is better to ask five whys to reveal the core issues. Thanks Karin for being so clear on your thoughts.

LaRae Quy   |   28 October 2013   |   Reply

I can’t wait to read your post on fun…I know it will be both creative and productive!

When I working on my graduate studies in persuasion, we studied how the addition of simple words to a request could make all the difference in the world. In one experiment, a woman asked to cut into a long line, but she added a simple word at the end…”please.” By adding that one word, the compliance rate went up to almost 100%!

I’ve never forgotten that..”please” and “thanks” are the two most persuasive words in the English language.

letsgrowleaders   |   28 October 2013   |   Reply

LaRae, Thanks so much. It’s amazing the power of simple words. Hmmm… I’m at the airport now… wonder if I should try testing lines with words.

Marietjie   |   29 October 2013   |   Reply

To say:’” I understand” is such a great way of acknowledging others.

letsgrowleaders   |   29 October 2013   |   Reply

Marietje, That’s a GREAT one.

Ali Anani (@alianani15)   |   29 October 2013   |   Reply

I posted this comment earlier from another computer, but it required moderation.
Karin- a super post because you suggest five simple rules. They are not costly, are affordable and impacting. The laziness that make people excellent in turning lights on, but not off are the same reasons that make people procrastinate on turning on their appreciation and revealing their intentions. The other point I would add is that it is better to ask five whys to reveal the core issues. Thanks Karin for being so clear on your thoughts.

letsgrowleaders   |   29 October 2013   |   Reply

Ali, I’m sorry I did not see that one. Thanks for stopping back. Love the metaphor of the lights… we do need to turn on more appreciation. And fully agree… the more “whys” the better.

Terri Klass   |   29 October 2013   |   Reply

Really enjoyed the post, Karin and especially connected with the word-”help”.

Not only do I think it is essential for leaders to ask how they may be of help, but also to use the appropriate tone and body language so it looks like they honestly want to help. One does not want to appear to be insincere.

Love your 5 words!

David   |   30 October 2013   |   Reply

Absolutely terrific post, Karin.

It’s nice to read what you have to say since most of us are surrounded by “bashers” Don’t believe it?—-just listen to AM radio.

You made my morning. One just cannot beat being around people who are caring, considerate and confident.

I agree with Bill. One just cannot go wring with Positive, Encourage and Humor

Yous is a SUPER essay.

Sridhar Laxman   |   31 October 2013   |   Reply

Karin
These are five powerful words. I would add ‘ fun’ to the list
: )