Lab Manager Academy: Words Matter

Communication is the tool by which leaders, managers, and supervisors can create a work environment in which individuals feel valued, connected and actively engaged.

By Pamela Jett, CSP

Unleash a Magic Leadership Phrase

Did you know that nearly one-quarter of U.S. employees (according to a recent Gallup Management Journal survey) would fire their bosses if given an opportunity to do so? Yikes! The reason these employees would opt to fire their boss is because they feel “disengaged” and “disconnected” at work.

Communication is the tool by which leaders, managers, and supervisors can create a work environment in which individuals feel valued, connected and actively engaged. In fact, communication is really the only real tool to build relationships leaders possess. As such, leaders would be well served to remember that words matter and use communication to strengthen as opposed to sabotage professional relationships.

Here is a technique leaders can use to build relationships and connect. This technique will help people feel like their opinions, ideas, and insights matter; which, in turn, helps people feel like they matter. Great communicators are comfortable using a version of “that’s interesting, tell me more”.

  1. If you are a leader and you notice an employee engaged in a behavior that seems, at first blush, to be inappropriate or wrong, you can either ask something defense producing (and thus counter-productive) such as “what are you doing?” or “why are you doing that?” or you can opt to be more savvy and try “that’s interesting, tell me more.” This frees the employee up to provide more information, without them becoming defensive. As a leader, you just might discover that what they are doing, although different than what you would do, is actually smart or innovative. Or, you might discover that they are engaged in something wrong. However, you can then provide correction and they are likely to be more open to the correction because you allowed them to explain themselves first.
  2. If you ever need to buy yourself some time because you have been blindsided or caught off guard, “that’s interesting, tell me more” is a great way to gather more information and simultaneously buy yourself some time to gather your thoughts. And, you appear professional and composed in the process.
  3. This technique also works when you suspect someone is being less than completely candid. By saying “that’s interesting, tell me more” you are sending someone a subtle signal that you are on to them and they will think twice about stretching the truth or being less than honest with you in the future.

These are just some of the scenarios in which “that’s interesting, tell me more” can be beneficial. It is a power phrase leaders can use to improve their communication and enhance employee engagement.

Pamela Jett, CSP is a communication skills expert, speaker, trainer and author. She works with organizations, associations and individuals who want to improve their communication skills for business and personal success. She can be reached toll free at 866-726-5388 or at her website

If you missed Pamela Jett’s Lab Manager Academy webinar “Words Matter Effective Communication in Your Lab", originally broadcast on Wednesday January 5, 2011, visit to watch the archived video.

Published In

Managing Crisis Magazine Issue Cover
Managing Crisis

Published: December 1, 2010

Cover Story

Managing Crisis

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