All work environments differ, and so people's take on what is or isn't correct in the workplace can obviously vary. In general though, there are a few key things that it's better to avoid saying. I'm not talking the very obvious like rude, hurtful and inappropriate comments, hopefully all of those go without saying. Instead today I'm looking at common words and phrases that many of us are quite possibly guilty of using but are best avoided if you want to establish yourself as a competent and confident member of any team.
From previous posts on here you may have gathered that I personally have a tendency to apologise for myself a little too much. If you've read my post 'Stop Saying Sorry In The Office' then you'll know this is something I'm trying to reverse. It's amazing though just how much this filters through into emails, phone calls and what you say to clients and colleagues. The effect of which can have a real impact for you when you're at work.
So I've completed a little research and rounded up some of the common mistakes that we can all be guilty of at times. Not just in terms of being too apologetic, but general negative or misleading statements that really aren't all that helpful. I'll link below to the full and very interesting articles that helped me to put this list together - but here are my top five words and phrases that I think it would be helpful for us all to try and avoid.
5 THINGS TO AVOID SAYING IN THE WORKPLACE
1. "Just" Oh dear - I've put this word at the top of my list because I think it's possibly the one word I overuse all the time. Even when writing this blog, I'm constantly going through and removing it from pretty much every other sentence! As quite a common filler word in sentences there isn't necessarily anything wrong with it, the issue though is that it does detract from the confidence and authority of what you're saying. Like many others, I use it because I don't want to appear too direct, for some reason it feels gentler to add it in. Unfortunately it can have the opposite effect making the speaker or writer come across as a little insecure or whiny. So "just" leave it out and be more confident in what you need to say.
2. "Does that make sense?" Another classic on my own personal list of offences. Asking this might seem harmless enough but the problem is that once again it takes away from the confidence in what you're saying. It makes the listener question whether or not you have faith in and understand your own idea. If this is the case, and you don't even sound sure yourself, then how can you expect them to do so? As the Business Insider article (listed below) suggests, stick to using something like "What are your thoughts?" instead.
3. "But we've always done it that way." Oooo probably one that's heard in offices up and down the country on a fairly regular basis! When someone new comes into your working environment and offers up different ideas it can be very tempting to resist with this very phrase. It may be difficult to adjust when someone suggests a new approach to something you've happily done a certain way for a long time, but you really don't want to become stuck in your ways or appear inflexible. Be open to new suggestions and don't be afraid to discuss them. You never know, it might be the fresh approach you were actually really looking for. If it's not then at least an open and friendly discussion shows you're able to think creatively and flexibly as well as work well in a team. The final decision might be to stick to the old routine but it doesn't hurt to digest new ideas and fresh thinking from time to time.
4. "I emailed you about it a week ago." This is not an excuse for not getting work done. Passing the buck and assuming it will be picked up by someone else just because you sent an email simply doesn't cut it. If they didn't respond and confirm that they would indeed take over the mantle for a piece of work or a particular task then it's down to you to follow it up and make sure things still get done. Don't use this age old email adage as a cheeky excuse!
5. "That can't be done!" Tempting at times, and on occasion maybe ever so slightly true, but you should always aim to have a can-do attitude in the workplace and demonstrate a willingness to work through a problem until you find a suitable solution. This can often be an excuse for being a bit lazy - is it really an impossible task or is it something out of your comfort zone that you don't really want to make the extra effort to achieve? Be honest with yourself and embrace workplace challenges. Sometimes things can't be done exactly the way a boss or manager might imagine, but there's usually always an effective solution of some sort. Aim to be the person that finds those solutions and not the person that puts up roadblocks every step of the way.
So that's my personal top five! Are you guilty of overusing any of these words or phrases or do you have some of your own that you try to avoid?
This week at work attempt to stop using the negative so much and think about more positive alternatives. Plus next time you catch me writing the word 'just' way too much in a single blog post give me a nudge and help me to kick my habit!
Below are two great articles that I used to compile my list. Both contain even more phrases that you should probably be wary of as well as some ideas for how to stop yourself from using them. Worth a read if you have the time.
Have a great Monday and see you soon.
SOURCES AND FURTHER READING
Things You Shouldn't Say At Work - Business Insider