Are you resolving to be a better leader and a better communicator in 2016? If so, you might find yourself setting some big goals that sometimes can be daunting to achieve. There is good news if you sometimes find yourself running out of steam and failing to achieve your goals. There are a few easy things you can do in 2016 that can help you be a more effective leader and a more promotable and engaged team member.

  • Stop “Kathy works for me”and start “Kathy works with”  As leaders, when we introduce someone on our team as working with us, it implies that we value and respect them. It can help our team members feel “part of” the team and also implies that we, as leaders, don’t set ourselves above or apart from our team.  This is a small and easy change that can make a big difference.
  • Stop “does anyone have any questions?’ and start “what may I clarify?” If you are looking to increase engagement and participation in meetings or group discussions, changing “does anyone have any questions?” to “what may I clarify?” can make a big difference. The former is a closed-ended question while the latter is an open-ended question. Open-ended questions invite far more participation. Also, “what may I clarify?” puts the responsibility for any confusion or missed pieces on you, the speaker and leader, instead of shifting it to the listener or team members.  Another small change that can result in better communication and results along with enhanced teamwork and engagement.
  • Stop “are you busy?” and start “is now a good time to talk?”  As leaders and team members when we ask “are you busy?” we may unintentionally insult someone or trigger defensiveness.  The question may imply we don’t think they work hard or are doing anything important. This is, obviously, not the message we wish to send.  By asking “is now a good time to talk?” we imply that we are aware they are busy. It is a message of respect. And, we don’t risk anyone misinterpreting our intent and becoming offended or defensive. As an added bonus, it also is a message of empowerment because it implies that we, as leaders, are aware that those we lead are in charge of their own time and are not always at our beck and call.

Resolve to make these small and easy changes to your communication and begin to reap the rewards of higher employee engagement, better relationships, and stronger teamwork.

Pamela Jett is a communication skills and leadership expert who knows that words matter! In her keynote presentations, workshops, books and online learning programs, she moves beyond communication theory into practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to create the kind of leadership, teamwork, and employee engagement results her clients want.