“Hi! You’re looking…”
Don’t just give friends and coworkers an upnod or an insincere “How are you?” while you breeze past. Pause and take a moment to comment on their appearance, whether they look happy, sad, or sick. You’ll probably spark a conversation about the weekend plans they’re looking forward to or the sick child they’re taking care of, says Paul Zak, PhD, author of Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High Performance Companies. Instead of making small talk, “it’s a much deeper conversation, but people almost always respond well to it,” he says. “It builds that emotional tie.”
“I understand what you’re saying”
Even if you disagree with someone’s views, show them you respect their beliefs with a phrase like “I appreciate your opinion” before trying to change their mind, says Lisa Gueldenzoph Snyder, PhD, professor and chairperson of the department of business education at North Carolina A&T State University. “Then provide an example that supports their perspective before transitioning the conversation to your perspective,” she says. This way, they’ll feel less criticized and will be more open to trusting what you have to say. On the other hand, these are the phrases that make an argument worse.
“In my opinion…”
When you’re about to share that dissenting opinion, transition between showing you want to understand the other perspective and your take on the subject. Phrases like “in my opinion” and “others suggest” make you seem more open to other opinions than “I” statements. “Try to use pronouns that don’t make it one-sided,” Dr. Gueldenzoph Snyder says. “Immediately saying ‘I think’ puts the focus on you instead of the combined conversation.” Also avoid saying “actually” and “in your opinion,” which imply the other person is wrong. Said the wrong thing? Make sure you know these phrases that can save an awkward conversation.