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Use Your Words to Get What You Want (at Work)

You can always get what you want, with persuasive language.

Through your years of experience and interacting with others, you might have noticed that there are moments when you have an easier time receiving what you need, whereas other times it's like pulling teeth. If you take a closer look, it might be your approach in how you're making the request that matters.

We often don't think about how powerful words can be. Once you say something, you can't take it back. Also, our words and how we use them says a lot about us. A 2015 Forbes article by Jeff Boss reports that a poll of 5,000 singles by Match.comfound that poor grammar was the second most unattractive quality about an individual's profile next to hygiene!

You might be wondering how an online dating profile poll has anything to do with communication at work. The fact is, it doesn't matter where the communication and use of words are taking place, it has an impact that spills over from our personal and professional lives. As Boss shares in the mentioned post, "The words you choose and how you employ them determine how you’re received—positively, negatively, influentially. This has powerful implications for not only leaders but all of us."

The focus of this article is using the right persuasive language when making requests at work to help you get the support you need and outcomes you desire. After all, we all have requests and would prefer eliminating as many roadblocks to getting them as possible (unless you enjoy unnecessary challenges).

The way you make a request or statement has an impact.

You want to think carefully about the words you choose when it comes to making requests. Consider making a request that requires thought, uses positive words, is not a demand and doesn't include the word "try" or "but." All of these suggestions are outlined in more detail below.

Making a request that requires thought.

This is a cool approach to requests that I learned in my direct marketing days. When you're asking for something, if you flat out ask for it, then it becomes a "yes" or "no" question for the responder. For example, "I would like to leave at 4:00 today. Is that OK?" requires a "yes" or "no" answer without little thought.

However, if you ask the question in such a way that it requires thought on the part of the responder, you're more likely to get what you ask for, or at least a clear reason as to why you can't have it. For example, "Is there any reason why I can't leave at 4:00 today?" This question uses persuasive language and requires the responder to stop and think about your question and then provide a response.

Using "I will." vs. "I'll try."

“I will” is a much clearer statement of what you will or will not do, whereas I try is a bit wishy-washy. For example, if you tell your manager, "I will make that change," it's very clear and authoritative, whereas if you say "I'll try to make that change," it can represent a lack of drive and initiative. Also, consider using "I do" instead of "I try," because you're either doing something or you're not.   

Using "and" vs. "but."

Have you ever heard that anytime you tell someone you love them but follow it with the word "but" that you're negating the "I love you" in the sentence? The same holds true when you're speaking about anything. Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioners  suggest using "and" instead of "but" to connect your sentences, because listeners will only remember what you said in the second half of your sentence if you connect it with the word "but." By using the word "and" to connect your sentences, the receiver is more likely to remember what came after and before the connector.

Making requests vs. demands.

Though showing authority can be a good thing in some situations, when you make demands vs. requests at work, it can be looked down upon and put an obstacle up between you and what you want. You can get what you desire in many cases by asking for it vs. demanding it. This is especially true if you're new to the workforce or company and have yet to earn the trust and respect of your manager or co-workers.

Instead of saying "I want this to happen", or "I demand a pay raise within the next six months", use some diplomacy and have a conversation that allows for communication and evaluation of your request (and use some of the persuasive language tips provided within this article).

Focus on a good attitude.

The more positive you are in general, the more likely you are to receive an ideal response to your request. This also goes along with using words like "I will" to support a positive outlook and response.

It's important to understand how your listener receives messages when making requests.

One of the biggest lessons in persuasive language communication is the fact that we need to understand the perspective of the receiver and how he or she receives or processes messages. When you're making requests at work, this can be gold in helping you receive what you need or desire.

Auditory, visual vs. kinesthetic thinkers/processors.

When it comes to processing information, we are often categorized into one of three groups—auditory, visual or kinesthetic. Auditory thinkers "hear" information, visual thinkers "see" information and kinesthetic thinkers "feel" information.

What does this mean for you as far as making requests at work? Listen to how the person with whom you’re communicating speaks. If they say, "I hear you" or "That sounds great!" then they're auditory processors. If they say "I see" or "That looks like a great plan!" then they're visual. If they say things like "I feel you" or "I get a sense that it's a good plan" they're likely kinesthetic processors. Once you're clear on how the receiver processes information, you can make your request using language that they understand or more easily process.

If interested, you can do an online search on Auditory, Visual, and Kinesthetic processing and receive a ton of information. One good resource to start with is VAK Learning Styles by MindTools.

Progressing your vocabulary takes practice and time.

We're all human, so don't beat yourself up if you find you're having difficulty shifting your vocabulary to use persuasive language. It can take time, but with persistence, you will progress. For more great information and tips on using language at work, you can read Jeff Boss' full article on Forbes titled "The Leadership Guide to Choosing the Right Words."

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Landing your dream job starts with the right plan.

Download your free action plan now to get the job you deserve.

Land your dream job.

Landing your dream job starts with the right plan. Download your free action plan now to get the job you deserve.