5 Phrases you Should Stop Saying at Work (If you Want to be Taken Seriously)

For individuals entering a professional workplace, the office culture may be difficult to get accustomed to. How do you know what’s right to say and what is not? While each office is different, and so is every employer, some phrases can be inappropriate in any work environment. Any phrase that may show your values as an employee can either help or hinder you. We listed five of these phrases down for you, along with alternatives to turn you into the ideal employee.

“I don’t like…”

Some of us have a real skill in analyzing a situation and pointing out flaws right away, but you must be careful in how you use it. If you continually point out flaws in your colleagues’ plans, then they may see you as being too negative, and be bringing your teammates down. Instead, always offer constructive criticism in these four steps.

  1. Start with a compliment, what did you like about the idea?
  2. Kindly share your concerns
  3. Offer solutions to those concerns to make the plan better
  4. Explain how these solutions make their idea even better

This 4-step process still points out the flaws you noticed while keeping the tone positive. This way, you are building your teammates up instead of tearing them down.

“That’s below of my pay grade”

Your responsibilities are not limited to what was on the description. For any job you apply to you can assume that the job description is a general overview of your responsibilities and not a cohesive list of everything you need to do. Businesses have tasks they need to do and you as the worker need to show you’re committed to the business by taking on any job you’re assigned.

“Sorry, but…”

When entering a space, or joining in a conversation, it can feel like you’re intruding on someone else’s space. Women and other minorities who may be less represented in that space are prone to this issue the most. Apologizing for one’s own existence does not send a positive message to your employers. Instead, show some self-confidence and engage comfortably and confidently with your peers.

If self-esteem is a more personal issue, then try pretending. The best way to build some self-confidence is by saying and acting like you believe in yourself until that happens. Try practicing in front of a mirror first so you can turn it into a habit.

“It’s not my fault”

This phrase can make you seem whiny. If you are blamed for something that’s not your fault, keep records of what you have done and stick to the facts. Allow your boss to reach their own conclusions based on the facts.

“I can’t”

Employers look for a can-do attitude in their employees. While you may be worried about your ability to do a certain task, you should at least try to look for solutions yourself. Taking responsibility and working to build and grow new skills will take you far in the workplace.