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The 6 Things You Should Avoid Saying At Work

Thursday 26 November 2015 by Sophie Donaldson

The office is certainly one of the places where your communication skills are tested at every instance.  Your choice of words and phrases speak volumes about your personality, work-ethics and professionalism.

Even if you are not among those who joke around on the job or seek attention with their off-colour humour, certain "subtle remarks" can also damage your professional reputation.

LinkedIn article by Dr. Travis Bradberry, co-founder of TalentSmart, outlines some commonly used phrases that are actually "career killers".

Get ready to be surprised with the list.

1.  "It's not fair"

Complaining at work is a common practice for most of us. While you are not obliged to put up with troubling issues at work, passive whining can also jeopardize your image. Bradberry explains, "Saying it's not fair suggests that you think life is supposed to be fair, which makes you look immature and naïve."

Instead, stay pragmatic and constructive, and focus on ways to improve work performance which in turn can be solution to the problems we complain about. If you have a genuine complaint to make, communicate it to the relevant person or group who can do something to resolve the issue.

2.  "This is the way it's always been done"

In today's technology-driven world, saying this phrase makes you sound 'lazy' and averse to change. There are no hard and fast rules for anything these days, as employers expect candidates to display creative-thinking and problem-solving skills. 

While in certain cases it may be prudent to follow set standards, bouncing innovative ideas off co-workers conveys a more proactive and enthusiastic behaviour. 

3.  "No problem"

This is one of those frequently used phrases which most of us cannot do without. But actually it produces just the opposite effect of what we intend to convey. Bradberry explains, "When someone asks you to do something or thanks you for doing something, and you tell them no problem, you're implying that their request should have been a problem." As a result, you send across a message that they've imposed upon you.

Instead, stick to the most courteous reply "You're welcome" or say something like "It was my pleasure" or "I'll be happy to take care of that" that suggest you are happy to do the task.

4."I'll try"

The office is not a place where you can get away with saying I'll try when you are tasked with some responsibility. This phrase reduces your credibility as an employee and suggests that in the most likelihood the task won't be executed. 

An employer has hired you for your abilities and skills; if you fail to take "full ownership of your capabilities", this can prove detrimental to your career.

5. 'It's not my fault'


When it comes to accepting responsibilities for problems, most people ngage in blame games to protect their self-image. But pointing fingers denigrates your image by making you appear as someone who evades responsibility for their actions. This can also have retaliatory effect, and others will not  esitate to cast the blame on you when something goes wrong.  

In order to show your true leadership, you should avoid passing the buck; rather take full ownership of your failures. If not, offer a genuine and reasonable explanation for others to decide who's to blame.


6."This will only take a minute"

If you think that saying you will finish a task in a jiffy can impress the people around you at work, then you are mistaken. Statements like "This will only take a minute" create an impression that you rush through tasks and don't strive for perfection.

You can assure them by saying that 'it won't take long' but avoid giving unrealistic time frames.


These phrases have become so much a part of our everyday language that eliminating them outright can be difficult. However, if you gain self-awareness of your language and are conscious of the negative effects of such phrases, you can eventually master the art of communicating effectively and confidently at workplace.