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13 Things You Should Never Say At Work

Here are 13 phrases that should be banned from the office:

  1. “It’s not fair.”
  2. “That’s not my problem,” “That’s not my job,” or “I don’t get paid enough for this.”
    • If your boss issues an unreasonable request, rather than saying, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. I don’t get paid enough for this,’ instead say, ‘I’ll be glad to help. Given my current tasks of A, B, and C, which one of these shall I place on hold while I work on this new assignment?’ This clearly communicates teamwork and helpfulness, while reminding your boss of your current work load and the need to set realistic expectations.”
  3. “I think…”
    • To convey a command of content and passion for your subject, substitute the word ‘think’ with ‘believe’ and replace ‘might’ with ‘will.’”
  4. “No problem.”
    • In business and social situations, if you want to be perceived as well-mannered and considerate, respond to thank you’s with, “You’re welcome.”
  5. “I’ll try.”
    • “In your speech, especially with senior leaders, replace the word ‘try’ with the word and intention of ‘will.’
  6. “He’s a jerk,” or “She’s lazy,” or “My job stinks,” or “I hate this company.”
    • Avoid making unkind, judgmental statements that will inevitably reflect poorly on you. If you have a genuine complaint about someone or something, communicate the issue with tact, consideration and neutrality.
  7. “But we've always done it that way.”
    • This phrase reveals you are the opposite: stuck in the past, inflexible, and closed-minded. “Instead say, ‘Wow, that’s an interesting idea. How would that work?’ Or, ‘That’s a different approach. Let’s discuss the pros and cons.’”
  8. “That’s impossible” or “There’s nothing I can do.”
    • Instead, try something like, “I’ll be glad to check on it again,” “Let’s discuss what’s possible under these circumstances,” or, “What I can do is this.”
  9. “You should have…” or “You could have…”
    • Instead of making someone feel guilty (even if they are), take a more productive non-judgmental approach.” Say, “Next time, to ensure proper planning, please bring this to my attention immediately.” Or, “In the future, I recommend…
  10. “You guys.” 
    • With fellow professionals such as your boss, co-workers and clients, substitute “you guys” with terms such as “your organization” or “your team” or simply “you.”
  11. “I may be wrong, but…” or “This may be a silly idea, but…”
    • Eliminate any prefacing phrase that demeans the importance of who you are or lessens the significance of what you contribute
  12. “Don’t you think?” or “Okay?” 
    • if your goal is to communicate a confident commanding message and persuade people to see it your way, instead of hedging make your statement or recommendation with certainty. Imagine an investment banker saying, “This is a good way to invest your money, don’t you think? I’ll proceed, if that’s okay with you.” Instead, you’d probably want to hear something like: “This strategy is a wise investment that provides long-term benefits. With your approval, I’ll wire the money by 5pm today.”
  13. “I don’t have time for this right now,” or “I’m too busy.”
    • To foster positive relations and convey empathy, say instead: I’d be happy to discuss this with you after my morning meetings. May I stop by your office around 1pm?”

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