10 phrases to avoid at work
"With All Due Respect."
This is a passive aggressive insult. "When you hear that or see it in email, you know anything that follows is going to be a roundhouse kick to your ego," says career coach Emily Bennington. Instead, be straightforward. "The trick is to just make your point without a qualifier that causes the other person to get in their karate stance."
While cursing among colleagues may be accepted at some workplaces, "I don't think it's ever a great idea to swear in front of your boss or your customers," says Bennington. "When the situation is intense or there's frustration involved, avoid strong language as it could have the unfortunate effect of being gasoline on the fire."
"That's a Bad Idea."
Don't resort to low-blows. You can get your point across without being mean. "Shooting someone's idea down is the worst idea of them all," says Jodi Glickman, author of Great on the Job: What to Say, How to Say It. The Secrets of Getting Ahead. "It's better to say something like, 'That doesn't make sense to me,' or 'I disagree.'"
"I Can't Do That."
If you don't have time for the assignment—or you don't know how to do it—there are ways of communicating that. "It's better to say something like, 'I'd really like to help but I'm constrained by time,'" says Glickman. "Or, 'I need some guidance from you.' You always want to be finding a solution to your problem."
"Everyone is Replaceable."
Ouch. This is not a great way to build confidence in your staff. "The message might be accurate, but it needs to be wordsmithed a bit," says finance coach Jacquette Timmons. "A replacement is never going to bring the exact same qualifications to the table."
"I'm Worried My Boyfriend/Husband Is cheating on Me."
Unless you're going through something that's going to affect your work schedule—divorce proceedings, a death in the family, a pregnancy—it's best to leave deeply personal issues outside of the office. Enough said.
"She Is So Annoying."
It's never good to trash-talk a colleague. "Never say anything you wouldn't want printed on the front page of [the paper]," says Lindsey Pollak, author of Getting from College to Career: Your Essential Guide to Succeeding in the Real World. That includes comments made over email and on social media.
"I Don't Think It's Fair."
While you might be upset that a colleague was promoted over you—or that she was given a plum assignment that you had worked hard to earn—saying that you "deserved" something that wasn't given to you is not the way to curry favor with your boss. Instead, talk to your boss about your desire for a promotion or choice assignment down the line and ask what you might do to boost your chances.
"You Look Hot."
While it's okay to compliment a colleague on appearance, don't take it too far. "It's totally fine to compliment someone's outfit, as long as it's not in an overtly sexual way," says Timmons.
"This Makes No Sense."
Even if you disagree with an assignment you've been given, nine times out of ten you should complete it. "Some assignments may not make sense to you directly, but are vital to other parts of your organization," says Bennington. "So if you're going to be a voice of dissent, be sure to pick your battles wisely and—as any military general would say—make sure it's a hill you're prepared to die on."