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Influence your team through communication. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that the way you communicate with your people can make them feel safe, included, and appreciated—or not. Don’t underestimate the way you seek information and convey ideas.

“When you want to help someone feel safe enough to shift out of his Critter State, try using one of these three influencing phrases,” Comaford suggests.

• “What if…” When you use this preface to an idea/suggestion, you remove ego and reduce emotion. You’re conveying that you’re curious—not forcing a position, but scratching your head and pondering. This enables your employee to brainstorm more easily with you instead of feeling that she needs to agree with the boss.

• “I need your help.” This tactic is called the dom-sub swap, because when the dominant person uses it, they are enrolling the subordinate person and asking them to rise up and swap roles. This is an especially effective phrase when you want a team member to change his behavior or take on more responsibility.

• “Would it be helpful if…” When someone is stuck in her Critter State, spinning her wheels, or unable to move forward, offering up a solution will help her to see a possible course of action or positive outcome.

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