Use These Phrases to Appear More Emotionally Intelligent at Work (and in Life)

Emotional intelligence is more important than ever in the workplace. We live in the midst of the Great Retirement , and people are less likely to stay at work where they are not felt, not seen, not heard and not appreciated. Employees want to work with and for people who demonstrate high levels of emotional intelligence—teammates and managers who demonstrate leadership along with self-awareness, empathy, and humility.

The cornerstone of emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, evaluate, interpret, and manage emotions—both your own and those of others—and use those insights to spur positive action. This sensitivity can improve everything from communication and personal relationships to performance and job satisfaction. Here are a few key phrases that emotionally intelligent leaders use.

“I’m Listening” / “I Hear You”

Never underestimate the power of the message to someone that you are listening to. We’ve all been on the receiving side of barely making eye contact or a warm nod when we’re talking to another person in the middle of a sentence. How much more validated and valued would we feel if they confirmed that we were getting their undivided attention, with some eye contact and a simple “I’m listening”?

It is nice to realize that we are not only listened to, we are heard and understood. By saying “I hear you” and “I understand,” you let others know that their point of view, ideas, and experiences are correct.

“Tell me more”

Similarly, effective communicators don’t pretend to know something when they really don’t know anything, and don’t make the other person feel stupid for not expressing themselves clearly. When this situation arises, emotionally intelligent communicators use invitation language such as “Tell me more” or “Can you tell me more about this?” to show your commitment to the conversation and gain clarity without any judgment.

“I appreciate you”

Taking a step (or more) beyond “good work” will help strengthen the relationship in the future. While there’s nothing wrong with praise like “looks good” or “thank you,” saying you appreciate the person behind the job adds an extra layer of gratitude and connection. (If it’s too far out of your comfort zone, start with a related phrase: “I appreciate your work on this.”)

“I trust you”

Generally, people perform better when they are supported and believed in, rather than being micro-managed or over-questioning. Saying “I trust you” indicates a fundamental confidence in the decisions and abilities of the other person, which allows him to achieve results and build morale.

“What do you think? Did I miss something?”

High EQ employees and leaders don’t censor ideas, feedback, or assume they know more than everyone else. In his book The Conscious Project Manager, author Colin Ellis notes, “Emotionally intelligent leaders are open-minded by nature and never stop looking for opportunities to discuss the thoughts and views of others.” One way to do this is to actively invite and allow meaningful contributions from others.

“I have a different point of view”

Emotional intelligence does not mean creating unnecessary drama or avoiding disagreements in the workplace. If your thoughts do not coincide with your colleagues, instead of remaining silent (and subsequently stewing that someone else’s work was a success), directly saying “disagree” or starting with a cloying: “With all due respect”, say: “I have a different point of view “. This opens the door to respectful disagreement and dialogue.

“Is everything all right?”

While your first reaction to a missed deadline or a teammate’s poor performance may be frustration or anger, showing empathy and caring for the well-being of others is at the forefront of emotionally intelligent thinking in the workplace. If a person who is usually dependable does not live up to the expected standards, put disappointment aside and ask earnestly about their well-being first.

“I’m sorry”

The ability to apologize is not a sign of weakness at all, but a hallmark of emotional intelligence. Admitting mistakes, accepting responsibility, showing remorse, and wanting to do better are the foundational elements of productive relationship building. (However, “sorry” should be reserved for when you cause personal pain, embarrassment, or a breach of trust; it shouldn’t be thrown every time you’re late or have a question .) For that, see below.

“Thanks for understanding”

Many of us have a tendency to overly apologize for everything from our appearance and feelings to embarrassment or delay due to extenuating circumstances. Where “I’m sorry” is focused on you and your feelings, thanking someone else for understanding will shift the focus to what they’re going through. Try replacing “Thank you for understanding” the next time you need to leave early to pick up your child, or turn in something later than expected.


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