10 Phrases That Inspire Collaboration
Have you ever noticed how some people have a way of inspiring others and getting their help and buy-in for projects? There are always certain people in any organization that just seem to engender loyalty and trust, while others are only given the minimum amount of respect and responsiveness. What’s the difference between these two types of people? While there may be other factors, such as sense of humor or empathy, if you listen to how successful team leaders speak, you will notice that people who get others to cooperate and join them in their crusades are people who have a way of presenting their ideas and asking for help. When you’re listening, you’ll notice that it’s not so much what they say, as how they say it.
If you’re looking to increase your influence and get more buy-in on your ideas, here are 10 phrases that will get people to cooperate and collaborate with you.
Phrase #1: Would you mind helping me with this?
Even if you have authority over another person, show respect by asking them for help. Besides communicating your acknowledgment of the individual’s contribution, being asked for help has a positive effect on people. In general, people are eager to help and to feel like they can make a positive difference.
Phrase #2: Please ……
Using the word “please” makes all your speech and requests sound respectful and collaborative, instead of demanding and controlling. You can add the word please to a request for deliverables and attach a deadline to the request. The first thing the person you’re talking to will hear is “please” and your request for them to meet a deadline won’t sound so ominous.
Phrase #3: Thank you for……
We all learned to say please and thank you in grammar school and as children at home. Somewhere along the way, we got busy and forgot these simple words. Bring both please and thank you back into your vocabulary and suddenly people will be responding to your requests with more positivity.
Phrase #4: I understand that we can't do that, but can we discuss other alternatives?
As a manager, there are times when your requests are met with opposition. Take the time to learn the reasons why your team members can’t fulfill your requests. Instead of either dismissing the opposition or getting angry, find out if there are alternatives to getting what you want. The art of compromise is a soft skill that will result in more wins than losses. Asking for alternatives from the team or other colleagues is a good way to keep the conversation going, to let them know you are open to alternative ways of doing something, and that their input is valuable.
Phrase #5: What are your thoughts?
This is a good way to get buy-in from your team for a proposal. Once they feel they are being heard, it is easier to pull them along, it also communicates to others that you think their input is valuable. While asking for input is a good way to get buy-in, it’s also a great way to get ideas. Don’t assume just because someone is your junior that they won’t have a valuable idea. Make room in your schedule to listen to the ideas of your team and you might be surprised by what you learn. Be open to changing your opinion or making adjustments to plans and proposals based on the input you receive as a result of asking that simple question, “What are your thoughts?”
Phrase # 6: From my perspective, it's a little bit different. Let me explain...
When you have a difference of opinion, starting off with this phrase won't put the other person on the defensive. When you say, "I don't agree or you're wrong," you’ve ended the conversation and any hope of getting ideas in the future. When you get in the habit of asking for feedback and listening to the ideas of the individuals on your team, you will create a safe environment for sharing. While getting the opinions of others will often improve your own work, there may be times when you don’t agree with the opinions you’re being offered – and that’s ok. It’s not necessary for everyone to be in agreement all the time. If they were, it wouldn’t be worth asking for ideas.
The challenge in situations where you disagree is accepting and listening to ideas and disagreeing in a way that isn’t demoralizing or belittling. Just because you disagree this time, doesn’t mean that same person won’t have the best solution next time. Create an environment where it is safe to disagree and where you offer your alternate opinion in a kind and respectful manner.
Phrase #7: I hear what you're saying, however....
Telling others that you hear them validates that you are listening and, in turn, makes it easier for others to be open to listening to your point of view. Too often, we are focused on how we present our ideas and not concerned enough about how well we listen to others. Make sure you do hear and understand what the other person is saying before you offer your own opinion. Before you completely dismiss the other person’s suggestions, see if there is a way to integrate their ideas and solutions into yours. In the end, the hybrid solution may be better than anything either of you could have constructed on your own.
Phrase #8: Let me see if I understand what you're saying....
This phrase not only lets the person know you are interested in what they have to say and are listening, but also that what they have to say is important enough for you to make sure you understand the meaning. Asking for clarification gives the other person a chance to correct anything that might have been misunderstood and helps you to solidify their ideas in your mind. Understanding is the first step to truly communicating and collaborating. When you assume you understand without clarification, you run the risk of miscommunication and all that goes with it.
Phrase #9: Tell me more…
Good communication is the key to getting buy-in from others and creating an atmosphere where people want to help you meet your goals. Communication doesn’t begin with what you have to say, or with making yourself understood. Good communication starts with listening and really hearing what others have to say. If you communicate effectively and accurately, you open the door to collaboration which leads to compromise and solutions to most issues and challenges.
Phrase #10: I like your idea, have you thought about…
If you’ve created an atmosphere where members of your team freely share ideas, not every idea will be perfectly thought out or viable. However, acknowledging the efforts your team members have made to think about a problem, is just as important as solving the problem. Instead of dismissing those early seeds of ideas, acknowledge them and give team members something more to think about to help them develop their suggestions more completely. Collaborating and building on the ideas of others is a hallmark of an innovative and productive team.
When you are trying to get your team's buy -in on a proposal or a goal, consider how you interact. Practice using these phrases with members of your team, your colleagues, and your peers. Using positive language and words like 'please' and 'thank you' elicit cooperation and creates an image of you as empathetic, professional, and polite. These words may be small, and these phrases may be simple, but they have a big impact on the people you’re communicating with and their willingness to work with and for you. Using these words and phrases may even inspire others to go above and beyond the normal scope of their work and help you surpass your own goals.
Using phrases to validate others and let the people know you are listening helps to garner respect and in turn, shows you have respect for them.
Dr. Michele D’Amico, CPC, CELC, is a RiseSmart Certified Career Coach. Her approach to coaching is to listen for your mental constructs and limiting beliefs -- the ones that may be holding you back from achieving your goals and dreams. According the Michele, “The client/coach relationship is a unique and synergistic one: we are a team united in the pursuit of your goals.” Learn more from Michele at micheledamico.com.