Do you wonder why you haven’t advanced in your career as quickly as you planned?
Today, I am here to save your professional reputation and help you advance your perceived worth with a list of 21 things you need to STOP saying at work, RIGHT NOW! Communication is not only about what to say, but also what NOT to say.
These 21 phrases also create unclear meaning PLUS they taint your professional image. If you are saying anything on this list below, you are sabotaging your credibility and hindering your growth. I will now briefly explain why.
1. “I think….”
It isn’t an assertive phrase. “I think” is timid. “I will” is assertive. It is obvious you thought of whatever you are going to say, so just say it. “I think we need to cut the budget by 20%” vs. “We need to cut the budget by 20%.”
2. “Sort of” or “kind of”
These are filler words that diminish the impact of your statement. “I kind of wish you didn’t talk to me that way.” vs. “Don’t talk to me that way.”
3. “You know what I mean?” or “Make sense?”
Most people ask this when they have rambled on so long that they have lost track of their point. If you have to ask if it makes sense, then it probably doesn’t. Rephrase until you don’t have the urge to ask this.
4. “Pretty much”
I knew a guy who pretty much said, “pretty much” all the time. It was his way to trying to get to the point but it just confused me and those in meetings with him. What is so pretty about much? What purpose does this serve you? Nothing. It is just verbal filler that clutters meaning.
“I want to make a suggestion, okay?” Unless you are genuinely asking for permission, don’t ask if it is OK. A lot of leaders, think tacking an “okay?” at the end of a statement will soften the impact of what they are about to say. If you want to make a suggestion, make it. Ask for permission only when it is warranted.
6. “Yes, but…”
Is extremely dangerous in brainstorming sessions. If you are tasked to come up with ideas…”yes but” can kill the momentum. “Yes, and…” is a secret improv comedy groups use because it keeps the ideas flowing.
7. ” I hear what you are saying.”
Don’t say it, but prove it. People use this as a “hurry up and hush so I can make my point” transitional phrase. If the other person keeps insisting his or her point, that means he or she doesn’t think you heard what they were trying to say. The best way to stop this is not by saying “I hear you”, but by summarizing or paraphrasing the point. That proves you heard what they were trying to say.
8. “Should have”
“Should have” is always a judgement statement. Whether you say it to yourself or to others, the effect is the same. It shames. It indicates that someone is or has passed judgement on another person. It incurs undue stress. If you didn’t do what you “should have” done, saying I “should have” serves no positive point at all.
9. “I will try”
This is a noncommittal response. You either will or you won’t. An “I’ll try” is a way to release you from being accountable to actions, either good or bad. Just avoid it.
11. “That’s not in my job description.”
Nothing identifies the non-committed more than this phrase. It evokes apathy and laziness. It makes you like you are not a team player. It makes you memorable for the wrong reason. Good bye, promotion or advancement. Hello, dead end job.
12. “This might sound stupid, but…”
Either you are about to say something stupid or you are just in the habit of self-deprecation. Either way, it makes you look bad.
13. “No problem.”
Stop saying this in response to “Thank You”. The proper response to “thanks” is “You’re Welcome”.
14. “Bottom line…”
If you have to say “bottom line ” you’re disorganized in your thoughts. A well planned presentation or argument has a natural conclusion that others can see without saying this phrase.
15. “I’d really appreciate…” or “Do me a favor…”
If you need to ask someone for something, ask them. Unless you are a mob boss, your appreciation or owing you favor is not enough motivation to get someone to do your bidding. It is manipulative and no one likes being manipulated.
16. “That will never work.”
Negative Nancy/Ned are party poopers. If you are saying this because you don’t like or agree with the ideas being presented, state why you disagree. If you see a flaw in the plan, address the flaw specifically. Don’t just shoot down ideas. Offer alternatives. Even if you are right, your reputation with your colleagues is ruined because you are perceived as negative.
17. “We’ve always done it this way.”
Past results is not a indicator of future success. Just because it has been done that way doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.
18. “What idiot came up with this?”
So, you don’t like the idea? Fine. Do you have to name call? This is the best way to insure that NO ONE will give you their best ideas in the future. Who wants to spend hours coming up with a plan only to have you call them an idiot? If you want good ideas, you have to listen to a lot of bad ones first.
19. “You didn’t hear this from me…”
Uh, yeah I did! Usually this phrase precedes some gossip. No one trusts a gossip. Though some may like to hear the latest tale, very few trust the tale bearer.
20. “I feel…”
Don’t use “I feel” when you really mean “I think” or you want to express an opinion. “I feel more men need communication skills development”. That is an opinion state. There is no feeling or emotion word in it. “I feel sad” or “I feel sick” is the proper way to use the phrase.
21. “May I ask a question?”
If you have a question, say “I have a question”. There is no need to ask permission to ask a question if it’s redundant.
This list is just a few ways professionals commonly muddy the communication waters. By avoiding these phrases you can save your professional reputation and become that polished professional that you want everyone to see. Polished professionals advance their careers. But, of course there are exceptions to every rule.
What would you add to this list? Please leave your comment below.