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How To Effectively Communicate With Your Coworkers

When you say, “With all due respect,” do your colleagues hear, “Jane, you ignorant slut?” Then you need a crash course in diplomacy.


  • Step 1: The word “but,” as in, “I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t think it could work,” makes people defensive. Replace it with “and,” as in, “I understand what you’re doing, and don’t think it could work.” You’re still saying the same thing.
  • Step 2: Liberally use the word “appreciate,” as in “I would really appreciate it if you…” as opposed to just “Could you…?” In one study, doing so persuaded people to do a favor 80% of the time, as opposed to 55% when it wasn’t used.
  • FACT: According to one survey, 90% of us think we’re good communicators—but only 41% of us think others are!
  • TIP: More than 80% of communication is nonverbal, so keep an open posture—unfolded arms, palms exposed, uncrossed legs.
  • Step 3: When you speak to coworkers, drop their name into the conversation. They’ll listen more closely and perceive you as smart and friendly.
  • Step 4: Be brief. Research shows that people get bored and begin tuning you out after seven sentences.
  • TIP: Make eye contact, but not constant eye contact. Looking someone in the eye longer than five seconds at a time can seem creepy.
  • Step 5: Slow down. People who speak slowly and wait a beat before answering a question are perceived as more intelligent than fast talkers. Talking slowly also helps avoid misunderstandings and gives the listener the impression that you’re carefully considering what you’re saying.

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