Just keep on saying that
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"Just keep on saying that."

It's a phrase that parents sometimes use as a sarcastic warning to their children or workers tell colleagues as a form of encouragement and agreement. It's the latter that we'll discuss here.

Business has its share of verboten comments, which I've discussed in a prior column. Now, it's time to address the other side of the ledger; those things that you as a businessperson should, in fact, say every day. They can be said out loud to others or just to yourself, but their import can be genuine to your business's growth and the satisfaction you derive from it.

So, talk it up. Here are seven things you should say every business day (with thanks to readers who generously submitted their suggestions):

  1. "I like what you're doing." This may seem simple and straightforward, but it goes beyond that. Telling an employee she's doing a good job is nice enough, but it's rather mundane and limited. But saying you like what she's doing carries over into any number of other areas, such as work ethic, attitude or her overall approach to her role in your organization. It's broader and more uplifting in its praise.
  2. "You never know what the tide will bring in." This cryptic remark pinched from the film "Castaway" offers a vivid reminder how essential it is to remain open to business opportunity. What may seem silly or pointless may morph into something of genuine value, given enough time. In fact, FedEx (the business featured in "Castaway") is itself vindication of the idea. One of the founders of the company got a lousy mark on a college paper that described his idea for a speedy delivery service. Hope FedEx and its tens of thousands of employees have since "FedExed" an ample supply of crow to one rather shortsighted academic.
  3. "How would you do this if it was the most important decision you'll ever make?" Hyperbole aside, this is a great strategy to inject both focus and energy. No matter the task, there's always the risk that things will become old and stale. But coming at something from a fresh perspective, which implies far greater significance than just getting the job done and moving on, is a terrific reminder of the implicit value of everything we do.


  4. "Do my customers get it?" There's a bagel shop near my home that's always packed with customers. What's curious, though, is that the bagels themselves are doughy and tasteless. Instead, it's the coffee that pulls people in equal proportions of rich flavor and potent kick. The tens and twenties in the register don't have "here for the java" scribbled on them, but it's clear that the customer base is, indeed, missing the point along with the shop's management. Watch what your business has become. However successful it may be, it may not be what you think it is. And, without a change in focus or strategy, inadvertent success often can be short-lived.
  5. "What's standing in the way?" It's important to focus on what we do and how to improve it, but it's equally essential to identify those issues and elements that are roadblocks to achievement. They can be as external as particularly creative competitors or as in-house as inefficient work habits that burn both money and time. Look everywhere for the obstacles to your business and then figure out how to overcome those issues.
  6. "Take some time to think." This is just as provocative said to your employees as it is internal monologue. Most business days are akin to an electrical shock stimulus and reaction, over and over. Granted, we all have to be ready to react, but urge your people and yourself to earmark a mental minute to think about what you're doing and why. Not only is it refreshing to shut down for a bit, but thoughtful analysis can reap any number of benefits, whether it's new ideas, better focus or a way to improve an existing process.
  7. "Where's the fun?" Business is pragmatic, not punishment. Take the time to find enjoyment wherever possible. If you're the boss, that means you need to help workers find the fun in their jobs or offer low-cost morale events to inject the fun and reward them for their efforts.

Jeff Wuorio is an award-winning writer and columnist, and is the author of "The CNBC Guide to Money and Markets." For more information, check out his Web site.

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