Management: 4 Top Skills and Tips for Better Communication & Influence

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Today, I want to invite you to join me every week, right here on HackerHoon, for management tips. This is a simple article series, focused on great tactics you can use in your team to become as productive as possible.

In this piece, we're going to focus on communication specifically: dealing with conflict and how to motivate others.

So, let’s go! Without “water” and boring recommendations ;)

#1 Reading Body Language


When you're trying to understand someone, their words are just half the story. You also need to pay attention to their body language.

You have to listen to the entire person: give or take, about half of what a person is really saying comes not through the words they're using but through their body.

What you're looking for are behavioral deviations:

  • The 1st type is a deviation from a person's normal way of communicating, referred to as their baseline

    If someone's behavior suddenly changes, it could be a sign that something is wrong. For ex, if someone who usually stands close to you and speaks slowly is now standing further away and speaking rapidly, that could be a sign of trouble.

    It's important to be aware of these changes in behavior, but it's also important not to assume that you know what's wrong. Instead, you can ask questions to try to understand what's going on, but be respectful of the other person's privacy, and don't be pushy.

  • The 2nd type is a deviation from contextual norms

In social situations, there are certain behaviors that are considered normal and acceptable. For ex, it is normal to briefly look another person in the eye and smile or say hello. However, if someone stares at you for a long time, it can be considered rude or uncomfortable.

So, don't make assumptions here; the person might be looking at you because they just like the T-shirt you're wearing :)

The best way to learn more about why someone is behaving in a certain way is to observe them carefully and ask questions if you feel comfortable doing so. Some things to look for include eye aversions, fidgeting, posture, and ofc, my favorite one - distancing behavior.

If someone is standing further away from you than normal or is angling their feet away from you, it could be a sign that they are not interested in the conversation or do not like you.

Begin to listen to the whole person, establish good baselines, and start looking for significant deviations. When you do, you'll realize that you've been missing a big part of the conversation!

#2 5 Phrases to Avoid


Sometimes, success at work is all about knowing what to say. Other times, it's about knowing what not to say.

  1. That's not my job

    We've all heard this one. Here's the issue. Even when it's technically true, it never inspires, and it's never helpful. When you say "That's not my job," you're essentially saying that you're only there to look out for yourself, and that you don't care about the needs of the team. If you don't have time to help someone, that's okay. Just tell them you'll help them later. But don't dismiss them with a curt "That's not my job."

  2. We've tried that before People often say "We've tried that before" when discussing a problem at work and someone suggests a possible solution. This is a way to avoid the extra work that comes with change. Even if something has been tried before, it doesn't mean that it can't be done in a new way. And even if you've struggled with this problem in the past, don't give up before you've even tried the new solution.

  1. There's no budget for that

    Some people may resist new ideas or solutions because they think they will cost too much money. However, smart leaders know that budgets are just guidelines, and they are willing to invest in great solutions, even if they have to adjust the budget to do so.

    A good leader will be able to find ways to make the budget work, even if it means moving money around from other areas. They will also be able to explain the value of the new solution to the team and stakeholders so that everyone is on board.

  2. I told you so

It never helps, only inflames the person. So you're better off saying nothing at all.

5. That doesn't follow procedure

Some people may also use policies, rules, or traditions as an excuse to avoid change. However, it's important to remember that most rules are not absolute, and great conversation is the key to team productivity. If you have a new solution that is likely to lead to progress, don't be afraid to speak up.

Here’s the case from my personal experience:

Once ,we were working on an NFT collection, and our partner was messing up and couldn't deliver the visuals in time. And then, one of the engineers came to me with an idea to not display the NFTs’ visuals and reveal them later.

At that time, it was a new mechanic in the industry, but we decided to take a risk and it worked out. A week later, that guy became a lead!

Still here? Let’s continue!


#3 Avoid These 7 Toxic Words

Some words, while potentially honest or well-intentioned, can hurt to the point of being toxic. By toxic, I mean they can inflame emotions, damage your reputation, and disrupt communication at work. Even when offering needed criticism, you can do so in a positive fashion.

  1. Can't Harsh and definitive statements like, "We can't do that," "He can't authorize that," or "Our customers can't understand this solution" are rarely helpful.

  2. No This is an easy word to use, but often negative and heavy. Instead, try to offer a more informative explanation of the decision that was made.

  3. Wrong

    If you want to make someone angry or question their intelligence, tell them they're wrong. A more nuanced statement is usually more beneficial.

  4. Fault Blaming people, even when they deserve it, is rarely productive. If you need to address a mistake, it's important to do so in a way that is focused on the team and framed positively.

    Instead of saying, "You messed up," you could say, "We made a mistake, but here's what we can do to fix it."

  5. Never

    It can sound like you're closing the door on all possibilities, which can reduce people's hope and motivation. Instead of saying, "never," try saying things like, "it's possible," "we'll see," or "let's explore our options." This shows that you're open to new ideas and possibilities, and that you're willing to work towards a better future.

  6. Stupid

    It's a common word, but mostly, seen as just insulting. People very often take it personally even if you’re talking about a product of smth. It’s much better to choose a non-inflammatory language.

  7. Impossible

    It's also important to remember that we can't predict the future, so saying something is "impossible" is not always accurate. Instead of saying "impossible," it's more helpful to use more nuanced language, such as "I'm not sure we have the time for that" or "I'm concerned this might be too difficult right now."

#4 Selling Your Ideas


Have you ever heard someone say that they could never be in sales? They act like sales are somehow dishonest.

And equates them with the stereotype of a used car salesman. That's unfortunate because selling is a fundamental skill in life. It's a form of persuasion successful people should use all the time.

Selling your ideas is simply the process of persuading people to agree with you and support your plans. It's a skill that you can use even if you're not in a traditional sales role.

Consider these 4 very useful tactics:

  1. Assess your credibility

    Depending on the quality of the idea, you might want to share it with others; no matter what your level of credibility. Having said that, the goal is to be as credible as possible. That means, first, having a trouble-free, high-quality track record at your job.

  2. Gain a reputation as a person who is helpful and supportive when others speak up with their ideas

    That’s to say, do yourself a favor, and build lateral support before trying to build vertical support. What I mean is that you're well-served to start with your peers, and others on your level or below you. This way, you can gauge how well the idea might be received, above you. And you're likely to receive good feedback that will help you refine the idea, and make it better.

  3. When promoting ideas, do it in a way that helps others

    Your idea is important to you, but remember that everyone has their own goals and priorities. This is especially true when you're sharing your ideas with people above you in the company. Before you pitch your idea, take some time to think about how it aligns with their priorities.

    How can your idea help them to achieve their goals; what are they? Be prepared to articulate this clearly and concisely.

  4. Be sure to spend time practicing your pitch

    If the idea is a big departure from the past or you're pitching to the executive level, you'd better be ready. You have to know the bottom line costs and projected benefits that are likely. You also have to be ready for predictable questions, which is why a great practice talk with peers is so useful before pitching to executives.

Selling sometimes gets a bad rap, but it shouldn't. Selling yourself and selling your ideas is a normal, required part of professional life. And if you remember the tips we just covered, people just might be buying what you're selling.

To sum up, managers play a vital role in the success of any organization. They are responsible for leading and motivating teams, setting goals, ensuring that projects are completed on time and within budget, and many more things.

Developing as a successful manager takes time and effort, and I hope that you find all the tips described above helpful!

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