Demonstrating emotional intelligence in the workplace is key to greater career success. It can make you seem more charismatic, more successful and more cooperative — all positive impressions that can help you gain trust and create change in any role.
But how can you seem more emotionally intelligent to your colleagues? Using phrases that demonstrate listening skills and empathy for their situation is a good place to start. Drop these five sayings into conversation and watch impressions of you improve.
1. "Thank you for understanding."
Instead of saying "I'm sorry," which centers you in the conversation, center the other person and their situation. It's the emotionally intelligent thing to do. Saying that you appreciate someone's understanding centers the sacrifice they made for your "sorry," whether it was waiting on you when you were late or covering for your mistake. They'll feel a sense of recognition and be impressed that you're putting their feelings first. That's much more moving than the typical half-apology of the workplace.
2. "Am I making sense?"
Instead of asking if someone has questions on what you're saying, to which they'll invariably say "no," or asking if they understand, which can make them feel belittled, ask them if you're making sense. It's humble and it puts you in the hot seat — you're telling them that if they don't get it, it's on you. That's reassuring and empathetic. People love people with those qualities.
3. "Tell me more."
"Tell me more" is inviting. It demonstrates that you've been listening to what the other person is saying, that you understand there's always more to say, and that you'd like to hear it. These three words demonstrate a real investment in the conversation and remind your fellow conversationalist that you always have on a listening ear.
4. "I'd love to hear more about [X]. Would you want to set a time to talk about it later this week?"
An extension of "tell me more," this phrase takes active listening to another level. It not only communicates that what the other person is talking about was important enough for you to listen — it also communicates that the topic at hand is important enough that you'd like to follow up. This is especially moving when you're offering to listen in on something you don't have your hands in directly — say a tangential project your colleague would like to talk about but that you won't be touching. Plus, it demonstrates that you're ready to deeply listen and, if requested, give advice without being pushy.
5. "What do you think about that? Am I missing anything?"
While it's usual for a manager to be included in decision making on our projects or other work, a lot of the time, our colleagues and direct reports also have meaningful opinions and suggestions for our work. They just don't feel like they have the opportunity to share — lest they rock the boat or insert themselves into something that they're not going to move. These questions not only provide space for feedback, they demonstrate that you're listening for it. These questions also provides them a way to start: By addressing any gaps you may be missing with your approach.