10 PHRASES THAT SHOULD NEVER BE SAID IN THE WORKPLACE
Words hold immense power. They can exult or denigrate, enlighten or misguide, bring joy or sadness. They can even go viral and become consumed by the world. In the workplace, words and phrases are more scrutinised than ever. They are a large part of how people perceive the employer, employee, and the relationship between business and client. Words, and how you use or don’t use them, play a large role in workplace happiness, clear communication, and self promotion. Below are 10 phrases you should never say in the workplace. Some are merely expressions that have become outdated, while others may land you in hot water. At worst, you can make yourself seem unprofessional in front of clients, colleagues, and bosses. Be careful of what trips from your lips.
1: “YOU GUYS”
Such a common phrase in the day-to-day vernacular of casual life, but inappropriate for the workplace. Firstly, it is slang, which can make you seem unprofessional. Secondly, it is inaccurate if there are women present, and may even come across as disrespectful. Thirdly, workplace language in general is becoming less and less gender-specific, making “guys” an obsolete turn of phrase. Try using more appropriate phrases like “you and your organisation” or “you and your team”. Even just “you” will suffice.
2: “NO PROBLEM”
This innocuous casual phrase is on the rise around the world, and is barely given a second thought. It may have been “no problemo” for Bart Simpson, but the workplace isn’t the venue for this particular bit of casual slang. It infers that the task at hand was a problem or the person asking you for help has been a bother. Just stick to the tried and true “you’re welcome” or “my pleasure”. Polite is always right.
3: “TO BE HONEST WITH YOU”
Another innocuous phrase that is no longer welcome in the contemporary workplace. It may make the person whom you’re addressing think you haven’t been honest in the past. Phrases that dredge honesty or transparency into question need to be expunged from the workplace vocabulary.
4: “MOTHER CUSSER”
There are a lot of psychological studies that show swearing is good for the psyche. That may be true, but it isn’t appropriate in the workplace. If the frustrations of the day wear you down and you let out an epithet of frustration, apologise to your workmates and continue on contritely. However, it is much better to mind the cussing and keep work clean.
5: “MAYBE IT’S STUPID, BUT”
Self-denigration like this is often used by people with low self-esteem who are fishing for compliments. It is not up to your co-workers to supply a sought-after ego boost. Also, this qualifier presupposes someone else’s reaction with a negative opinion. Phrases like, “Here is a new idea; it is not usually what we would pursue, but I think it has merit” are self-reinforcing and positive for workmates to hear.
6: “I WILL TRY”
Nothing crushes confidence more than hearing this phrase. Replace it with confidence-boosting words to create can-do phrases. “I am confident that …” or “I am certain that …” are more positive. They engender optimism in the workspace and imbibe your persona with a perceived confidence.
7: “THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE” OR “THERE’S NOTHING I CAN DO”
These are negatively conclusive phrases that can’t really be true. They convey pessimism and even hopelessness. Has every avenue for success truly been explored? That’s the real impossibility. Words alone can contribute to solving difficult situations. “Let’s discuss what we can achieve under the circumstances”, for example, is a positive contribution that lifts morale and catches the notice of employers. A boss will recognise and promote a can-do attitude.
8: “ALWAYS” & “NEVER”
Speaking in these absolutes can be dangerous. If they prove to be wrong, then you are simply left with egg on your face.
9: “JUST JOKING”
Having to qualify a faux pas with “it’s just a joke” means someone’s feelings have been hurt. For the sake of workplace harmony, it is certainly better to say nothing than something that can be interpreted negatively.
10: “I JUST WANT TO KNOW” OR “I JUST WANT TO SAY”
Uttering these phrases can signal a lack of confidence. They are both superfluous and denote hesitation. Say what you mean directly and with conviction.