End Misunderstandings, Boost Your Career: Communication Secrets Revealed

Lately, helpful social and emotional skills for better communication were learned from a podcast called “RachReflects.” Today, the aim is to share the gained knowledge. This is useful for people in teams and leaders who work in the community. Sometimes, what’s common sense to one person might not be known to others is overlooked. Each person has their way of understanding things.


Before starting a conversation, it’s essential to choose kind words. Another essential aspect is understanding how others feel, known as empathy. This helps the community work well together. Everyone needs each other, just like no one lives alone on an island. People are required in order to help us grow, do things for us, and show us things we might not see.

Now, let’s learn how to talk in an excellent way and make sure our message is understood.


Three Important Ideas:

1. Know who you’re talking to. Different people need different ways of talking. Think about who
will listen to you. Talking to a boss is not the same as talking to a coworker, primarily if they
work in a different part of the company.

2. Think about how much power someone has compared to you. This matters in how you talk
to them.

3. Pay attention to how they talk and act. What kind of person are they? What do they mean,
and how do they show it with their words and body?

Here are some things workers often ask bosses and how to say them better so you don't sound impolite.

How do we professionally say, I won't be able to stay late to deal with this?

I have a family dinner this evening, but I’m happy to tackle this during working hours tomorrow, too.

How do we professionally say I'm getting underpaid for what my role has evolved into?

My scope of work has evolved significantly in the last six months. I would love to discuss how we can align our expectations concerning my responsibilities and compensation.

I can't take on any more work right now.

I have three priorities at the moment a, b, and c. I’ll need to put one of these on hold to take this on. Which one would you prefer?

Your micromanaging isn't making this go any faster.

I appreciate your intention to support me. I have all the guidance I need for the moment. And what may be most efficient is if I get on with this and then get back to you once I’ve made significant progress.

How can we professionally say this: "These meetings are unnecessary"?

The way to say this depends on who you’re talking to and your role. If you’re leading the meeting or telling your boss, you might want to consider your approach. During our busy period, as a way to make the best use of everyone’s time, I’ll be sending updates through emails and setting up meetings only for essential questions or decisions. It might sound too direct to say, “We could save time by not having these meetings,” or “This meeting could be an email.” It also varies based on the company’s style. For instance, in young companies like startups where most employees are in their 20s, it’s OK to suggest that some meetings could be replaced with emails.


However, in more traditional, bureaucratic organizations where they’ve been doing things the same way for a long time, it’s better to offer alternatives. For instance, during our busy phase, to be mindful of everyone’s time, we could limit meetings to decision-making and clarifying questions. Updates could be shared via email during this busy period.

How can we say this professionally: "If you had read the whole email, you would know the answer to this"?

The way to say this depends on if it’s your boss or a coworker. Usually, it’s not good to sound sarcastic or passive-aggressive by saying, “If you have read the email, you should know.” A better way might be to mention that the information is in your email. I usually put the essential details at the end of my emails. However, if there’s a better way for you to understand this information, please let me know.

How do we professionally say I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about?

I need more context in this situation.

Please stop micromanaging

To facilitate swifter progress on this specific matter, I will provide updates upon completion or when approval is required.

Is there a future for me in this company?

This can be divided into two parts. The first part involves exploring the opportunities for career growth within the company. The second part pertains to the skills and experiences needed to reach the next level. This kind of conversation should ideally take place in a career development session with the supervisor. This is a significant question that requires careful consideration of career growth. Around 20 minutes are requested for a career development discussion.

How do we professionally say, How many times do I have to follow up with you before I'll get a response?

You may have missed my follow-up emails with you. What’s the best way for me to get a response from you?

The workload has become burdensome because additional tasks are consistently assigned as a reward for quality performance.

I’ve noticed that my tasks are quite numerous, possibly due to the additional work given for performing well. I’d like to talk about something I’ve seen. The workload might be managed differently in other places. It could be a matter of how things are seen. I’d like to chat with you about what’s a reasonable amount of work and productivity, especially compared to others. Does this also have a good effect on my chances of moving ahead in my career?

How do we professionally say these deadlines are impossible to meet?

Consider implementing a strategy for managing expectations. With a one-hour window, the data can be extracted, but the possibility of errors remains due to time constraints. Extending the time frame to a day would allow for a comprehensive data review and the provision of a summarized report. If granted a week, more comprehensive and detailed information encompassing X, Y, and Z can be presented. This approach revolves around presenting options within different time frames. It’s important to acknowledge that part of the role involves educating superiors, considering their busy schedules. Managers often have numerous tasks requiring their attention. Avoid presuming they possess complete awareness of your workload or task intricacies. Part of your role entails functioning as an educator, presenting choices rather than assuming thorough understanding.

How do we professionally say, I can't read your mind? Please be more clear on what you want.

I’m eager to understand your expectations better. Could you provide more clarity on your requirements? I’d appreciate having more information to work with. For instance, are there any past examples or case studies of successful work that I could refer to? This would greatly help me gain a clearer idea of your expectations.

How do we professionally say its become clear to me that I'm no longer experiencing growth within this organization, and I'm looking for more challenging roles.

Learning and growing are important to me this year. I’d like to discuss my job’s responsibilities to find ways to learn more and develop my skills.

How do we professionally say I do not feel very supported by you as my boss.

The statement can be confusing because it’s unclear what “not feeling supported” means. Different people interpret it differently. Some might think it’s about not having enough time with the boss, while others might feel micromanaged. They could also feel ignored or like they need more guidance. So, what support do you need? If the issue is a lack of communication, you could say, “Could we have a short chat about expectations or advice? Maybe 20 minutes?” If you need coaching, you could say, “Could we discuss my career path?” But be specific. You may need flexible hours, like leaving early to pick up your kids on certain days. You need to define what “support” means to you. There are emotional, mental, social, structured, and various other kinds of support. It’s essential to think through your needs before addressing this.

How do we professionally say, and how is this relevant to this conversation?

This is exciting data, but I want to understand how it relates to our mutual goals.

Why do you keep asking for my input but never listen to it?

To be more specific, it’s not even a question. It’s like; it’s just venting? So I suggest reframing this to What detailed feedback this person wants to give? For example, if your boss told you to do a project or task, you can say, I’ve sent you three emails regarding my requests, which may still need implementation. How can I better present more practical and actionable suggestions that meet your needs? Is there something that I’m missing? I want to understand the root cause of these suggestions needing to be implemented.

How do we professionally say stop gossiping and complaining about other team members?

It’s crucial to understand that gossip is a standard part of human bonding behavior. People, especially those who might feel insecure, lack confidence, or have extra free time, tend to gossip more. It’s essential to filter out the unnecessary chatter around you and stay focused on your work. However, if a colleague keeps approaching you with gossip and draining your energy, it’s necessary to set some boundaries. You can say, “I understand this might be bothering you, and I know it’s a busy time. If I have a moment, let’s chat over coffee.” Alternatively, you can respond with, “I see this is frustrating. I’m sorry to hear that,” and then return to your tasks.

What we’ve learned acts like a framework. It involves not only holding back or expressing ourselves but also finding ways to articulate our thoughts thoughtfully and skillfully. This serves as a helpful reminder to consider two things. Firstly, who we’re talking to, and secondly, choosing the right time to have the conversation – not when they’re busy and rushing. Another essential principle is to first align our intentions. Before offering feedback to my boss or anyone, it’s crucial to set the context. For instance, if we talk about a project that’s significant to us, I’ll clarify some details. I’ll frame it in a way that shows we’re both dedicated to the project. This creates a sense of unity and shared purpose.

Psychologically, this approach conveys collaboration and being on the same page. It’s vital to remember the principle of focusing on intent before content. Before saying the actual content, state your intention. This gives meaning to the conversation. While open and honest communication is crucial, it’s also essential to assess the context of what you’re saying. Transparency in our working relationship matters.

People can sense genuine unity, and sincerity helps soften the impact of our words. Within Asian culture, various forms of mindfulness and face-saving are present. In certain parts of Asia, fear issues are prominent. Therefore, Western strategies like setting boundaries may not always work directly. Choices are abundant, especially in Asian cultures, so it’s essential to be mindful of local norms.

Make sure to check out RachReflects on Spotify!

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About the author

Amy Aw, Senior Marketing Director (R002731Z)

Building long term relationship through office space.

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