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How to Motivate Coworkers With Words

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Whether you are addressing an assembly or a small group, motivating with words can help employees feel confident about themselves, making them better employees. Many managers struggle encouraging their coworkers to give their all, so use positive, direct communication to boost workplace morale.

Get to know your employees. Be friendly, and ask them questions about their families or what they like to do outside of work. Do not push for information they do not want to give, but show genuine interest in what they do offer. Discuss nonwork topics with your employees during breaks, or go out as a group after work. This helps you learn what types of encouragement your employees most respond to and what personal motivation you can offer them.

Stay positive. Even when work becomes frustrating or something negative happens, look on the bright side. Use positive words, such as "can," "excellent" and "success," and avoid empty or forced cliches. Continue to lead by admonishing coworkers privately when they do something wrong, but maintain a positive demeanor around the office, using the word "we" instead of "I" to encourage camaraderie.

Use words and phrases that give respect and encourage inclusion. When planning job titles or preparing publications and presentations, consider the denotations and connotations of the words you plan to use to refer to your employees and their work. For example, use "associate" or "team member" instead of "subordinate." Even phrases such as "completed the project" may make workers feel as if they have achieved a personal success instead of "finished the assignment," which can make them feel like subordinates.

Use language that shows workers how much you value their opinions. Frequently ask employees for their input. Do this by asking, "Does anyone have any comments or feedback?" and pausing when you are addressing large and small groups. Also, give credit where credit is due, thanking employees for their innovative ideas when you use them.

Tip

One way to start using words more positively is to determine how you are currently perceived. Consider distributing an anonymous survey to see how positive or negative your employees think you are.

Warning

You won't motivate your workers with words if they aren't perceived as honest or sincere. Only say what you mean, and don't exaggerate or praise workers who are not doing a notable job.

About the Author

Miranda Morley is an educator, business consultant and owner of a copywriting/social-media management company. Her work has been featured in the "Boston Literary Magazine," "Subversify Magazine" and "American Builder's Quarterly." Morley has a B.A. in English, political science and international relations. She is completing her M.A. in rhetoric and composition from Purdue University Calumet.

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