Two phrases that I’ve used my whole career to enable better communication

Published Date: June 13 2018

Not to sound really old but I’ve been working for awhile now and I’ve noticed some phrases that seem to have a lot of power. These work for me though they may not work for everyone. They acknowledge that I may not be an expert at this exact task that I’ve been given and that I will endeavor to do as well as my abilities will allow me and that I’m working to my max capacity.

Why does this matter? I think it’s helpful to be truthful with my coworkers but not let them think I’m an idiot. There is a difference between “not knowing but will find out” and “don’t know and don’t care”. You really don’t want to give off the sense of the second one. That’s off-putting for people who are looking for assistance with something and coming to you as the authority.

“I’ll do the best that I can”

When starting a project and I’m usually asked when this can be done. They pick out a date, usually relevant to marketing purposes and indifferent to me. I almost always respond with this answer. It’s the truth, I don’t say I can’t make it or I’ll try and make it. I do what I can, if I make it I will if not then it wasn’t possible and I did everything that I could to reach completion. Especially in the beginning of a project people want to get a firm answer and you’ve not even started. Once the ball gets rolling I’m fine with giving updates and having a more definitive timeline then. For me it feels like a positive spin on any deadline, especially tight ones. Obviously this doesn’t take into account those situations were the answer must be “I will hit that deadline”.

“I’m not sure, but I’ll look into it”

If someone asks me to do something I don’t know or how something is done that I don’t know. This is my simple answer. Personally, I’m really good with figuring things out, so I don’t mind going the extra mile to find out. I can figure out how something works or where something is supposed to go. In the end if I can’t figure it out I report back to them and find someone who is able to answer the question. It’s a win/win, either a learn something new and help someone or I tried but will direct them to someone who can help them.

I strive to be agreeable and helpful, so being honest and inquisitive is my first thought. These rely on you being very communicative and able to express your findings, your troubles and your successes. Or maybe I’m naive and I shouldn’t be giving people wishy washy answers, who knows?

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