Effective Leadership Communication Phrases in the Western Workplace

Recently, I attended the annual NECINA (New England Chinese Information and Networking Association) in the KMPG Conference center in downtown Boston.


They had an impressive list of distinguished speakers, including Dr. Peter Petri, the Founding Dean of Brandeis International School of Business, and Mr. Harry Zhu, founder and CEO of Wayou Networks, MA in Physics from Harvard and past president of Carbonite China.    Each was knowledgeable and engaging.  Some participants took notes on their phones.


Then Ms. Liqi Peng, Global Brand Director, Proctor and Gamble spoke.  She addressed several topics on leadership, many of which were about culture and communication differences in a Chinese workplace and a Western workplace.  She cited some of her experiences with phrases one should not use in the Western workplace and the consequences.  And, she gave the audience more appropriate responses.

I noticed many more participants taking notes.


We can talk about specific behaviors expected in communication styles in order to advance, yet, most often, we want to know what transitional phrases and words to say and when to say them.


These resources are often included in our training, targeting speaking clarity and accent, pause and body language during the role-playing as well as giving the individuals specific and meaningful vocabulary and phrasing strategies for effective leadership communication in a Western workplace.


Here are some phrases to use in different scenarios:

For Negotiations And Confirmation Of Terms*:

  • Just to confirm, we ….
  • Per our agreement, you will……, And, we will…
  • As you agreed, you will …


Phrases To Effectively Respond To Others Ideas Include: Hint: Use “We” or “That” versus “you” **

  • “Name”, That is an interesting/thought provoking idea/concept…
  • That / this opens up some considerations for ….
  • We may want to consider…..


Phrases To Use With Your Boss: Hint: Use “We” or “That versus “you” **

  • ….. to do what is best for the team/project/company. 
  • ..…to do what will increase marketability / productivity / possibilities /…
  • I look forward to working on this.. /…. with you/.. OR  ” I appreciate the opportunity to ….”


These are only some that work well in the Western workplace.  Here are strategies to implement these.  You will notice more positive responses to your ideas.

  • Take a small notebook or use your smartphone into meetings or on teleconferences:
  • Document “transitional phrases” that the leaders and/or savvy communicators use
  • Take one phrase a week and work it into your daily communication.


**Resources: Christopher Wright’s “Quick Business English System” and “How to Say It at Work “ by Jack Griffin.

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