Never Ever Say This at Work

by | 20.04.23

Never Ever Say This at Work

There are many things that you know should never be said in any situation, for instance any racist comments, sexual harassment remarks or conversations about politics or religion, but there are plenty of circumstances where knowing what to say in the office is a grey area. Here are some things you should never say in the office and why:

“It’s not fair”

Someone has been given a pay increase and you haven’t. They have been recognised as someone who is worth more money and you haven’t. Injustices happen in the world everyday – but is this an injustice? Instead of moaning about it not being fair or complaining, document the facts, build a case and present an intelligent argument to your Manager on why you deserve a raise as well.

“That’s not my job”

If you asked someone for help and that person said “that’s not my job” or “I don’t get paid enough to do that” how would you feel? More importantly what would it say about the person who said it. Regardless of how inconvenient a request may be it is obviously important to the person who has asked you for help. Be a contributing team player, help out others if you can.

“I think…”

Which of these two statements sounds more authoritative? “I think this dress would be right for you” or “I believe” or “I know” or “I am confident this dress will be right for you”. There is a slight difference in wording, however the conviction communicated to the person you are speaking to is enormous. Don’t use wishy washy words like “I think”, use positive words like “I believe” and “I will”.

“No problem…”

When someone thanks you the courteous and polite reply is “you’re welcome”. The meaning implies that it was a pleasure to help. The laid-back phrase “no problem” may intend to communicate this but it falls short. It actually negates a persons appreciation and implies the situation could have been a problem.

“I’ll try”

Imagine you ask a friend to post a birthday card for you and they replied “okay I’ll try” you would mostly likely think “don’t bother I’ll do it myself”. Why? Because someone saying I’ll try” implies the possibility of failure. When talking to your Manager replace the word “try” with the word “will”. This seemingly small change will speak volumes.

“He/She is hopeless”

Nothing sinks a career faster than calling colleagues names. Not only does it reveal juvenile school-yard immaturity it is something that you could be sacked for. Avoid making unkind, judgemental statements that will inevitably reflect poorly on you. If you have a genuine complaint about someone tell your Manager don’t moan about them.

“We’ve always done it this way”

The most effective Managers value innovation, creative thinking and problem solving skills in their employees. By saying “we’ve always done it this way” basically you are revealing yourself as someone who is stuck in the past, inflexible and closed-minded. Embrace change or at the very least discuss the pros and cons.

“That’s impossible”

Really? Before you refuse to do something are you sure you’ve considered every single possible solution. By saying something negative your words convey a pessimistic, passive and possibly even a hopeless outlook. This approach is not welcomed in the workplace. Employers notice, recognise and promote a can-do attitude, so be positive, at the very least look at what you are being asked to do again and try to come up with a way of doing it.

“You should have…”

You probably wouldn’t be thrilled if someone said “you should have told me sooner!”. Chances are these fault-finding words inflict feelings or blame and finger-pointing. Instead of making someone feel guilty – even if they are – take a more non-judgemental approach and try to help the individual in the future.

“You guys”

Reserve the phrase “you guys” for friendly casual conversations and avoid using it at work. referring to a group of people as “you guys” is not only inaccurate if women are present it could be considered sexist. Address people correctly, ideally by their names or in a more casual situation perhaps use “you lot” or “hi everyone”.

“I may be wrong, but…”

Never start a sentence like this as it will diminish the impact of what follows and reduce your credibility. Remember what you say reveals to the world how much you value yourself. For this reason don’t use phrases that will demean the importance of who you are and what you can contribute. Instead make any recommendation you have positively, it may be accepted it may not be but above all believe in yourself.

“Don’t you think”

By saying “don’t you think” you are hedging your bets and seeking validation. If you want to deliver a commanding message make your statement confidently. If you want someone to follow an instruction or understand a new process you will need to persuade people to see it your way, so instead of hedging make your statement or recommendation with certainty.

“I’m too busy”

Be aware of the language you are using, by saying this you are showing negativity and the fact that you are not coping well with your job, don’t ever admit failure. Explain you are busy but you will endeavour to fit in what is needed. Be a winner – not a loser. Winners cope with everything thrown at them, losers are too busy.

“I can’t stand my boss”

Yikes. It can be really easy to think that your work mates will agree with this statement but don’t count on it. You’d be surprised on how fast this type of thing gets around an office. Once it makes it way back to your boss – and it will – you’ll be faced with an awkward conversation or your boss will simply write you off, it could even cost you your job. Work at ways you can get along with your boss rather than possibly get the sack.

So be careful what you say at work, whilst you may think you can say what you want but the truth is you can’t. You don’t want to be the person no-one likes, or the worker everyone is afraid to approach. Nor do you want to look like someone who is going no where. Watch your Ps and Qs, you’re not with your mates, you are with work colleagues and the management team and will definitely be judged on what comes out of your mouth.

Good luck.

Angela Burton