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10 Things You Should Never Say at Work

10 Things You Should Never Say at Work

As humans, we sometimes have the unfortunate habit of speaking before we think.

Elizabeth Hoyt

March 07, 2017

As humans, we sometimes have the unfortunate habit of speaking before we think. Sometimes, when this happens at work, nothing bad happens. Then again, there are those phrases you should avoid at all costs, like those below.

1. “I can’t/won’t work with that person.”

You’re not going to be best friends with everyone who works in your office, just as you’re not best friends with everyone you meet in life. That’s a given. You should, however, be able to work with them on a professional level.

If you do encounter someone you seem to be having an issue with at work, do not complain or speak poorly of them to others. Doing so will only make you look unprofessional in the process.

Instead, speak directly to the person and ask why you might be able to do to improve your work relationship. Try to talk it out and, rather than airing your complaints, give the person the floor. He or she may have been acting unkindly to you because you may have been doing something you didn’t even realize was just as bothersome.

Chances are, that after being heard, he or she will give you the chance to voice your thoughts as well. Clearing the air will likely lead to a more positive work relationship for the both of you.

If this approach proves unsuccessful, and a project’s success hangs in the balance, you may need to consider discussing the situation with your manager. Again, avoid any petty comments about your colleague and simply state the way you feel.

Make sure to note that you are only discussing the situation because you are concerned about the project you’re working on and only want success for the company – you don’t want any triviality to stand in the way of that.

2. “I don’t have time.”

Dismissing your boss is a bad idea in general, which is why you should never utter this phrase. However, if you simply have too much on your plate, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “I’d really to accomplish this task but I’m currently working on ABC and XYZ. Can we discuss how I should prioritize these projects?”

That way, your boss will have a better idea of what’s on your plate and you will know what’s a priority in his or her eyes.

3. “I can’t because I don’t know how.”

You may encounter situations within the workplace where you may not know how to perform a task because of a lack of knowledge.

If it’s possible, avoid saying this dread phrase and try to set up a demonstration with a skilled coworker on your own to gain the necessary knowledge so you can complete the task.

4. “That will never work.”

It’s simply not productive to shut down other people’s ideas in a team setting. While you may be aware that something logistically cannot work, there are better ways to voice your thoughts than completely dismissing their contribution.

Also, be mindful of negative body language. Eye-rolling, sighing or negative expressions are never appropriate.

Not only does it make you look like you’re an uncooperative and negative, but you’re not contributing anything productive to the team by putting someone else’s contribution down.

Instead, focus on constructive criticism. Feel free to make alternative suggestions or point out challenges that may occur as a result of someone’s idea – after letting them know that you value their input.

5. “But he/she got…and that’s not fair!”

Nothing is as reminiscent of a child whining as this phrase. If you do feel this way, whining about it to your boss is not the correct way to approach the situation. It’s unprofessional and will likely make you come across as more of a pest than deserving of the same rewards – even if you actually do deserve them.

Instead of comparing yourself to the other individual that received a benefit that you did not, speak only about yourself. In fact, do not mention the individual or your awareness of whatever he or she received at all.

Be prepared for any potential questions your boss may ask regarding your sudden need so that you do not begin a complain session mid-meeting about what the other individual got and you did not. Specifically state what you want and why you feel you deserve it, outlining your specific accomplishments within your role.

6. “You’ll never guess what I just heard.”

Try as best you can to avoid getting caught in workplace gossip – no matter how tempting it may be. You cannot control what other people are saying or what other people say to you, but do not contribute to the conversation.

You never want a reputation as being unprofessional and that’s exactly what the workplace gossip is.

Though it may seem like it’s not a big deal at the time, it likely is to the person that’s being discussed, so make it a rule for yourself not to contribute to those types of conversations all together.

7. “It wasn’t my fault.”

One of the worst mistakes you can make at work when you’re accused of making an error or mistake is to get defensive. It’s easily understandable why you would, especially if you feel you legitimately did not have anything to do with the issue. However, the smartest way to handle the situation is to focus on fixing the issue, rather than worrying about assigning blame.

Try to come up with a solution to the problem to remedy the situation quickly as possible. If possible, a solution to see if what caused the error in the first place can be avoidable in the future.

Doing so will not only fix the situation at hand and in the future, but will show you are level headed and a successful problem-solver as well.

8. “Things at home are…"

While you can discuss appropriate topics regarding your person life, keep it to a minimum. Bringing your personal drama and issues into the workplace isn’t advised and can make you appear distracted and unprofessional. Steer clear of discussing personal issues in terms of private relationships, complaining about home drama, etc. Your co-workers may ask about your weekend, but that doesn’t mean they need every little detail regarding your personal life. Keep this in mind with what you divulge to remain as professional as possible.

9. “My last manager used to…” or “At the last company I worked at, we did it like this, instead.”

When an employee utters a phrase like one of the above, others tend to think that you loved your last company’s practices so much, go work there again. Do you really want your coworkers to have this attitude toward you?

While your suggestion may have been innocent in nature and trying to improve upon things, try to embrace the ways things work at the company where you are currently employed to avoid unnecessary drama.

If you feel you have a legitimate suggestion that could improve business, phrase it in a way that does not involved old baggage from a previous employer.

10. “I nailed that!”

Nobody likes a braggart. Your ultimate goal should be to promote yourself but to avoid bragging at all costs.

Constant boasting and bragging will not only annoy your superiors and coworkers, but will also show that you’re not recognizing the individuals who helped you with projects.

The key to gaining recognition for your work is shining a light on those who have helped you accomplish the task. This can be achieved through sending out subtle emails to your team, stating the accomplishment and thanking specific coworkers for all of their hard work and efforts on the work they ultimately helped you accomplish for the company or business.