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8 magic comments that workers love to hear

01 Jun, 2020 Interpersonal communication, PR management

Every employee wants to feel they are valued, to see themselves in a positive light. This is a fundamental human motivation proven by research, as discussed in the article, “The little things that make employees appreciated,” published in 2020 in the Harvard Business Review. And so people are prepared to contribute more if they feel they are achieving something worthwhile. Read about the 8 magic comments that workers love to hear, and which show you support them.

Workers love to hear these 8 magic comments

The following phrases are music to our ears! You don’t have to be a manager or supervisor to say them; you can show leadership as a colleague. (Some people say employers exploit this type of motivation to extract more from their staff for no extra cost. If the employer is doing this, it is extremely unethical and will rebound on the employer sooner or later.)

Make a note of these comments and use them when you feel it is appropriate. They are all 8 magic comments that workers love to hear.

  1. “I believe in you.” This confirmation of faith in a person is tremendously motivating. It shows trust and support for that person.
  2. “What do you think?” The fact that you respect another person sufficiently to ask their opinion is important to them. For example: an employee in a focus group I once ran in a large organization said, “This is the first time in my 20 years with the company that management have asked my opinion.” He was quite emotional about it.
  3. “That was my fault.” Your team already knows when you have made a mistake, so there is no point in covering up. If you own up to your mistakes they will respect your openness with them.
  4. “Glad to have you on the team!” This is one of the most powerful and motivating things you can say to an employee or colleague.
  5. “Here’s where our company is going and these are our goals.” Employees want to know the direction of the company and the way in which they will understand how they are progressing.
  6. “Thank you.” Obviously people feel better when you thank them for their efforts. To be even more effective, you should tell them specifically why the acknowledgment is being made. This shows them you are aware of how their specific effort has helped. For instance, say “Thanks for staying back late to finish that report yesterday. Senior management were impressed to receive it so quickly.”
  7. “This is why.” If you always give a reason, others will invariably respond more positively. Research has found that people can be up to 50% more cooperative if you tell them why: “I would like you to help with this because…” or “This policy has been changed because…”
  8. “I know I can always count on you for…” The important thing is to be specific. People want to be recognized for their strengths and talents. Specific recognition of these abilities in a conversation is a strong motivator for others.

Several of these points amount to employee recognition, praise, acknowledgment, approval, compliments etc. I believe these are extremely important motivators to every person, and I have written an ebook published in this website, which explain how to do it well – Employee Recognition: The secret to great team performance, which you can use as a detailed guide.

(Above comments adapted from an article by David Mielach of Business News Daily.)

Your gratitude wins trust and respect from others

You can actively listen to others, you can thank people for their work at a personal level, you can recognize their work at an organizational level, you can be polite to others, and you can model good behavior as an example to others.

Feeling grateful to others and appreciating them has several beneficial effects on us individually: gratitude enables us to savor positive experiences, cope with stressful circumstances, be resilient in the face of challenges, and strengthen our social relationships.

Beneficial effects of gratitude

Leaders and internal communication professionals play an important role in creating an environment where employees feel valued for who they are—and not just what they do. This 2021 article by Andrea Greenhous in PR Daily, “5 ways to nurture a culture of gratitude in the workplace,” provides some valuable advice on the topic

Feeling grateful to others and appreciating them has several beneficial effects on us individually: gratitude enables us to savor positive experiences, cope with stressful circumstances, be resilient in the face of challenges, and strengthen our social relationships.

Researcher Prof. Francesca Gino wrote an article, “Be grateful more often,” in the Harvard Business Review in 2013, which discussed her previous research with Prof. Adam Grant of the Wharton Business School that found even simple expressions of gratitude can have powerful and long-lasting effects on those who receive them. This reinforced the conclusion that gratitude wins trust and respect from others.

My article, “A useful ratio for giving praise,” discusses several research results on giving praise and recognition to others.

On the other hand, the impact of negative emotions, and especially the feeling of being devalued, is extremely toxic. People want to hear that they matter – it may be the most precious thing in the world to them. According to international research conducted by Willis Towers Watson, the single most important factor in engagement is employees feeling their managers are genuinely interested in their wellbeing. Less than 40% of workers felt so engaged.

Much more beneficial is to remember to use these 8 magic phrases that workers love to hear.

About Kim Harrison – author, editor and content curator

Kim Harrison, Founder and Principal of Cutting Edge PR, loves sharing actionable ideas and information about professional communication and business management. He has wide experience as a corporate affairs manager, consultant, author, lecturer, and CEO of a non-profit organization. Kim is a Fellow and former national board member of the Public Relations Institute of Australia, and he ran his State’s professional development program for 7 years, helping many practitioners to strengthen their communication skills. People from 115 countries benefit from the practical knowledge shared in his monthly newsletter and in his books available from cuttingedgepr.com.

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