Skills 360 – Top 10 Words for Business 1

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Hello and welcome back to the Skills 360 podcast. I’m you’re host, Tim Simmons, and it’s great to have you back for a new season of podcasts from Business English Pod.

For today’s lesson, I want to take a look at 10 key skills or characteristics that every successful business leader needs. You’ve probably heard this kind of list before, but I want to do something a bit different. I’ve matched these key skills with simple but powerful words or phrases that you can use every day. In business, competition is fierce, and you want every advantage you can get, right? So let’s find out how you can get a leg up.

Okay, for the first one, let me give you a couple of situations. Say your boss tells you her plan to reorganize the office. You love the idea, and you want to show your enthusiasm. Or say your business partner comes up with an idea for a new app that you think could go gangbusters. You want to convey your energy for the idea, right? So what can you say? How about “Let’s do it!” This is a great way to show your enthusiasm and energy. And without those qualities, you can’t go anywhere in business. Just ask the folks at Nike.

Now, enthusiasm is great, but you also need balance. You can’t rush into everything headlong without careful consideration. It’s often impossible to undo a bad decision, and every room needs someone to play devil’s advocate. So when everyone is getting fired up about your colleague’s latest bright idea, you can provide that balance. When he lists the advantages of his plan, you can say “on the other hand” before pointing out some things he might have failed to mention. In this way, you show a more balanced perspective.

Next, I want to talk about a pair of simple words that we all know, but many of us don’t use enough. That pair of words is “thank you.” And I don’t just mean saying thanks casually and automatically. I’m talking about looking someone in the eyes, maybe shaking their hand, and saying with all sincerity “thank you.” It might be for a business lunch, for someone’s time, for someone’s purchase, or for someone’s service. And what does saying thank you show? It shows respect. And believe me, I know that business can be tough, but you’ll go much further if you learn to show all the respect that you yourself like to be shown.

Yes, business and work life can be tough, but we still need to mind our manners. And at a very high level, minding our manners means being diplomatic. Someone who is diplomatic can disagree, can negotiate, can criticize, can express displeasure, and do all of these things while still being polite and respectful. The magic expression here is “Yes, but…” As in, “yes, I understand your point, but there’s something else we need to consider…” My friend Dave is a genius at this. He can make you feel great about your opinion, but still reject it. Like this: “Yes, Julie, I think that’s a really fantastic idea. But in this situation I don’t think it will be possible…”

Okay, so we’ve done enthusiasm, balance, respect, and diplomacy. There’s one more for today, and it’s the characteristic of every successful entrepreneur. It’s something people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs had a ton of. It’s ambition. And the simple word that I want to encourage you to use properly here is “yes.” When your boss asks if you think you might want to help expand the company into new territory, what do you say? You say “yes.” And when your friend asks you if you want to create a business to market the fantastic piece of technology that you built in the garage, what do you say? You say “yes.” Ambition is the drive to go out and be successful and get what you want. And the way you get that is not with the words “well” or “maybe.” It’s with the word “yes.”

Now I realize some of you might be thinking that “no” is also an important word. You’re right. It is. But you’ll have to wait for next time to find out exactly what quality that word represents.

That’s all for today. So long. And see you again soon.