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Things Not to Say at Work

lady stop sign with hand

Source: Stockphoto.com O#23559 – ID#100101531494

Most people spend more time at work than they do at home, so it’s natural that you could become so comfortable in your workplace that you begin to let your guard down. But, it is important to remember that it is still a place where you must maintain a professional demeanor. Whether you are expressing yourself to your boss or your coworkers, you should be careful in choosing your words. Don’t let anything pass your lips that could be considered harmful or demeaning towards the business or anyone in the company.

guy hand sign to stop
Source: Stockphoto.com O#23559 – ID#100061664781

Here are a few phrases to avoid that could potentially hurt your career or even end it.

1. “We’ve always done it this way.”

Regardless of whether that is true or not, what other people here is that you are resisting change. When you resist change, you cannot progress in your position, and you will remain stagnant. That isn’t a good look for an employee in front of their boss. Usually, things change for the better, or they are temporary for the situation at hand. If things didn’t change, you would still be waiting for dial-up internet or calling handwritten numbers from your Rolodex. If you are hesitant to a new way of doing things, try asking questions about it and learning the benefits. Once you are more aware of the new method, you will be more likely to trust it.

2. “That’s not my job.”

Many bosses will ask their employees to carry out tasks that go outside of your comfort level or that you may consider beneath you. It happens from time-to-time in any business, but instead of looking at it as an annoying extra task, think of it as a chance to show how versatile of an employee you are. Besides, saying that something isn’t your job, comes across as you saying that you won’t take one for the team. If you really cannot find the time to carry out these unrelated tasks, inform the asker that you have several other projects to finish first, but when those are completed, you would be delighted to help out. If you truly are busy, they should realize that and may ask someone else.

3. “You’re dressed up today. Do you have an interview somewhere?”

Some people feel like getting a little extra dressed up on certain days. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are trying to leave the company. By phrasing, this question in this way what you are genuinely portraying is that they don’t usually dress nice or maybe that they don’t like their job and could be exploring options. So what if they have an interview somewhere else? You will find out in due time if they leave the company anyway. Instead of asking them questions that they would like to keep private, say that they look nice or you like their shoes and move on. If you do decide to compliment them, be sure that the compliment is workplace-appropriate and you have a comfortable relationship with that other person, too.

4. “I don’t know.”

Sometimes you don’t know the right answer. That’s fine, but try to avoid saying this particular phrase. Instead reply, “I will find out for you” if the question was asked in person. If the person asks you over email or GChat, you can do a quick Google search or ask a more informed co-worker before replying.

5. “You’re how old?!”

You might not think that this question is a big deal, but it doesn’t work out in any situation. If you are incredulous that a person is so young in such a position of power you are making the accusation that they look older for their age. If it is vice versa, then you are conveying that they aren’t where they should be professionally at that time in their life. Simply, steer clear of age-guessing or any questions that may be related.

6. “I don’t enjoy working with this person.”

This is another response that makes you look like you are not a team player. Just because you do not like someone does not mean that should hinder you from maintaining a professional relationship with them. Sometimes working with people who have a different style than your own can be useful for growth.

7. “This task is not possible.”

Instead of saying this, try working out the issues. How can you be sure if you haven’t laid out the problem in front of you and contemplated all of the possible outcomes? Avoid being negative all the time when you’re in the office. Otherwise, your co-workers won’t want to work with you.