The Top “Phrases” Smart People
Avoid Saying At Work

October 27th, 2016

phrases smart people avoid saying at work

There are some phrases or words smart people avoid saying at work or when collaborating with others. Even if the words are true, some of these phrases have an uncanny ability to make you look bad or seem incompetent, explains Dr. Travis Bradberry coauthor of bestselling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

“No matter how talented you are or what you’ve accomplished, there are certain phrases that instantly change the way people see you and can forever cast you in a negative light. These phrases are so loaded with negative implications that they undermine careers in short order,” says Dr. Bradberry.

Below are a few key phrases to avoid saying at work from Dr. Bradberry’s article. Read the full article here, Critical Things Smart People Never Say.

Key Phrases to Avoid Saying at Work:

  • “This is the way it’s always been done.” Technology is changing so fast that even a six-month-old process could be outdated. Saying this is the way it’s always been done not only makes you sound lazy and resistant to change, but it could make your boss wonder why you haven’t tried to improve things on your own.
  • “It’s not my fault.” Never say this one instead, be accountable. If you had any role—no matter how small—in whatever went wrong, own it. If not, offer an objective, dispassionate explanation of what happened. Stick to the facts, and let your boss and colleagues draw their own conclusions about who’s to blame.
  • “I can’t.” I can’t is the twisted sister of it’s not my fault. People equate the phrase I can’t with I won’t. Instead of saying what you can’t do, say what you can do. For example, instead of saying “I can’t stay late today,” say “I can come in early tomorrow morning. Will that work?”
  • “It’s not fair.” Saying it’s not fair suggests that you think life is supposed to be fair, which makes you look immature. Instead, stick to the facts, stay constructive, and leave your own interpretation out of it. For instance, you could say, “Would you mind telling me what went into that decision? I’d like to better understand.”
  • “That’s not in my job description.” This phrase makes you sound like you’re only willing to do the bare minimum required to keep your job, the best move is to complete the task eagerly, states Dr. Bradberry. Later, schedule a conversation with your boss to discuss your role in the company and whether your job description needs an update. This ensures that you avoid looking petty.

Other phrases to avoid saying:

“This may be a silly idea”

“I’m going to ask a stupid question”

“I’ll try”

“This will only take a minute”

“I hate this job”

“He or she is lazy”

There you have it, remove these phrases from your vocabulary and consider how you can better express them in a different way. Do you have other phrases to add to this list, we’d love to hear about it in the comments section.

If you liked this article, you might enjoy reading How To Write Actionable Emails At Work.