The Simple 6-Word Phrase That Makes You Seem More Sincere — and Likable — at Work

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AnnaMarie Houlis4.87k
Journalist & travel blogger
April 18, 2024 at 11:36AM UTC

A wealth of research suggests that sincerity goes a long way in the workplace. Not only does it improve your relationships with others, but it also increases your likability, which can, in turn, enhance your job performance.

One study found that sincerity is one of the top descriptors of people who are perceived as likable. And other research indicates just how important characteristics like sincerity — which helps to make up someone’s emotional intelligence — are in the workplace, suggesting that people with high EQs perform better, too. In fact, EQ is responsible for 58 percent of job performance, according to the research.

Nevermind that being sincere with your colleagues and employees just promotes a culture of trust. And one surefire way to be perceived as more sincere is by adding six words to every compliment: “You might not know this, but…” These six words can totally reframe a compliment.

“The framing works quickly, and it comes down to preparing your audience to do two things: first, to pay attention to what you're about to say, and next, to expect that your message will be a true and positive reflection on them,” writes Inc. contributor, Bill Murphy.

Framing your compliments this way makes them “other-centered” vs. “self-centered,” Murphy adds. In other words: When a compliment intends to make the complimentee feel good instead of the complimenter feel good for sharing it, it’s a genuine compliment.

“It starts with ‘you,’ so it impresses that the other person in the conversation is also the subject of the conversation,” he explains. “It also implies that you're about to share new knowledge that the other person isn't aware of yet. And the inclusion of a difference-indicating conjunction (‘but’) suggests that the information will contradict a previous assumption. Overall, it establishes that whatever comes next isn't just about something you want to share. Instead, it's about the other person's perception of reality.”

So the next time you go to give a compliment to a colleague or employee at work, choose your words wisely. Not only will a wisely worded compliment make their day, but it’ll also make you seem more sincere, which can enhance workplace dynamics in more ways than one.

AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at by night.

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