Believe it or not, the way you communicate can have a direct impact on your career. More specifically, the words you use can inspire confidence and credibility – or uncertainty and mistrust.

Don’t panic! There are a few subtle things you can do to make sure you’re always perceived positively.

Here are seven communication tips that will help you be more likeable at work.

Appeal to your audience

“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language,” said Dale Carnegie. This is an important thing to remember.

Using a person’s name ensures that you appeal to their W.I.I.F.M. (what’s in it for me) point of view. It will, in short, get their attention. Once you have it, take a cue from athletes and political leaders: when you’re receiving kudos and praise, use the plural form “we,” and when it’s time to give a mea culpa, use the singular “I.”

Compliment your co-workers

It might sound trite, but a compliment can go a long way. Just make sure that your compliments are sincere and appropriate. You might, for example, want to say something nice about a co-worker’s impact on a project, the company, or even your day. If you know the person won’t be embarrassed, compliment them publicly. If they’re more reserved, do it by email (with their superior in CC). This recognition can also take the form of a testimonial or a referral.

“How can I help?”

The best way to endear yourself to co-workers is to make yourself available, and to contribute to the objectives of others.

This is not the same thing as saying, “let me know if I can help.” That’s too vague and it places the onus on the other person, which can be perceived as annoying, particularly when one is overwhelmed in the planning stages of a project. Instead, offer to help in specific ways. Not only is this more pro-active and thoughtful, it takes immediate pressure off your co-worker.

“I’ll do it.”

These three words can have a huge impact on the way you’re perceived. When someone asks for help, be pro-active and say yes. But then take things a step further. Take part in (and offer to plan) social events and office lunches, volunteer for extra department tasks (especially when your skills can be put on display). In short, engage with your workplace, and be willing to go the extra mile.

Not only will people appreciate the effort, they may one day return the favour.

“I have an idea.”

Instead of asking, “What if we…” tell people you have an idea.

Stating instead of asking is a subtle way to position yourself as solutions-oriented. It displays initiative and shows you are a big picture thinker. When making this announcement, be considerate of others, choose your moment and watch what impact it has on your audience.

“Thank you.”

Adopting an attitude of gratitude can do wonders for the way your co-workers perceive you.

When someone does something for you, sincerely thank them. Take a moment to appreciate their contribution to your project or your work day. Thank your boss too. He or she will appreciate it as much as you do.

Also, don’t discount the power of a handwritten thank you note. In the digital age, this goes a long way. Proudly displayed on one’s desk, its life expectancy is a lot longer than that of a virtual thank you, which can be quickly deleted or forgotten.

“I love my job!”

You don’t have to proclaim your love or your work every day, but by using certain positive phrases and words, you can show and tell how happy you are at work (which can also let your boss, colleagues, and clients know that they were right to entrust you with the job).

When assigned a role, respond with enthusiasm:

  • “Sounds good.”
  • “Yes, I would be happy to.”
  • “I can definitely do that by then.”
  • “I look forward to collaborating with you.”
  • “I always enjoy working with your team.”

Don’t love your job? It’s your job to make sure that you do. And if you truly don’t, maybe it’s time to find something new.


Julie Blais Comeau is Chief Etiquette Officer at She is a bilingual coach, professional speaker and the author of Etiquette: Confidence & Credibility. Julie empowers organizations with the skills that allow employees to shine at work and boost their business opportunities. A sought-after media collaborator she has been featured on CBC, CTV, Reader’s Digest, TVA and Radio-Canada, among others.