The Three Most Impactful Workplace Phrases

August 25, 2015 by

Three best workplace phrasesI recently read a New York Times article that featured The Three Most Influential Phrases in the Workplace. I was surprised to be in agreement, that indeed using these three phrases is the most powerful way managers can show that they are human, and show they truly care about the relationships they have with their direct reports. I was so excited to begin using these phrases in my keynote presentations and leadership development workshops, that I went home and shared them with my wife.

Each phrase is featured below, along with my own explanation as to why they are so impactful.

1. “Thank you.”
Recognition has been consistently cited as the number one driver of employee engagement. This is not pure conjecture, but rather a scientific fact born out of multiple key driver analyses on employee engagement. And who should be most responsible for delivering “atta girls,” “atta boys,” “nice job,” and “thank you”? Of course, the manager.

2. “I do not know.”
Sadly, many managers are of the belief that admitting that they do not know something is a sign of weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth, and in fact, sharing that you don’t have all the answers lets your direct reports see both the human side of you, as well as your interest in learning from others.

3. “I am sorry.”
Knowing when to apologize and doing so is an incredibly meaningful way of sustaining a healthy relationship with your direct reports. Several weeks ago I was communicating with one of my important business partners, and we had our communication lines completely crossed and disconnected. I did not feel like my message was being heard, and I am certain she felt the same way. My frustration got the better of me and I grew a bit testy and the call ended a bit abruptly. Importantly, I made the call to apologize for my behavior, and it was clear that my apology was appreciated. Managers should adopt this same sensitivity in order to catch themselves and make the apology.

Humorously, on the heels of me sharing these three most impactful workplace phrases with my wife, she said, “You know, those work in a marriage too.”

Thanks Honey. I did not know. I’m sorry.



Kevin Sheridan is an internationally-recognized Keynote Speaker, a New York Times Best Selling Author, and one of the most sought-after voices in the world on the topic of Employee Engagement. For five years running, he has been honored on Inc. Magazine’s top 100 Leadership Speakers in the world, as well as Inc.’s top 100 experts on Employee Engagement. He was also honored to be named to The Employee Engagement Award’s Top 101 Global Influencers on Employee Engagement of 2017.

Having spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant, Kevin has helped some of the world’s largest corporations rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors. Kevin’s premier creation, PEER®, has been consistently recognized as a long-overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement. His first book, Building a Magnetic Culture, made six of the best seller lists including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. He is also the author of The Virtual Manager, which explores how to most effectively manage remote workers.

Kevin received a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School in 1988, concentrating his degree in Strategy, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Behavior. He is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded and sold three different companies.