10 Things You Should Never Say at Work

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things not to say at work

There are several things you should not say at work because saying them can put you in a situation where your colleagues and the management suddenly question your professionalism, decency and integrity. It is okay to be friendly and playful with your colleagues but you should avoid saying things that might easily come across as offensive. Such things have a way of putting a question mark on your professionalism.

You don’t necessarily have to use the ‘F-word.’ Below are some of the things you should refrain from saying at work.

I Assumed That…

There is usually no place for assumption in the workplace; especially when it led to a mistake. Rather than assume, you should confirm and carry out tests. Do not be in a haste to implement or carry out any task. Instead of saying: “I assumed that…” you should use a constructive like: “My understanding was…” This ensures you are communicating a lack of clarity.

Not My Problem…

If you say that the responsibility for a particular task resides with another co-worker and go as far as passing blames, it bears a negative connotation of not being a team player. This is even worse if the issue involved directly affects your team or department. As a responsible employee, you need to be genuinely involved in any problem your organisation is facing. Strive to be a team player at all times.

Weak People Take Sick Leave…

Being a troll, bully or one who enjoys mocking others is unethical in the workplace. If you are sick and can still carry out your tasks rather than take required rests to recuperate and be at an optimal performance, that is your choice. Never resort to using your personal choices or preferences to troll others. This is completely unacceptable.

Makes No Sense…

This statement does 2 things – It makes you sound arrogant and it makes the person you say it to look unintelligent. It does not matter if you can back up the point you are trying to emphasise. You must always remember that something that does not make sense to you might make a ton of sense to others in the workplace.

Instead of telling your co-worker that what he/she said does not make sense, consider replacing it with a more constructive line like this: “I do not understand this.” Such a statement shows that you seek more clarity to what the person has said.

You’re Wrong…

In the workplace, strategies and ideologies can always differ but how you communicate it would end up deciding whether they are agreed on or not. Rather than saying: “You are wrong,” how about replacing it with “I disagree and here’s why…”

There’s Nothing I Can Do…

Tasks and projects can sometimes leave you stuck. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, one of the things you should never say is: “There is nothing I can do.” Such a line simply communicates that you lack initiative, creativity and the ability to navigate emergencies. These are not the qualities of a good team player or leader. Rather than saying “there is nothing I can do,” you should say, “I am a bit stuck.” What this communicates is the fact that you need some assistance, more time or fresh ideas to get ahead.

We Always Do It Like This…

Being scared of change is very common in most work environments. This becomes manifest when you say, “We always do it like this…” The fact that an idea or strategy currently works does not mean it cannot be optimised for even better results.

Instead of saying, “We always do it like this,” why not go for a more constructive line like, “Your approach is different. Can you share why it is better?”

You Should Have or Why Didn’t You…

Empathy will always get you farther than blaming your coworkers or finding faults in their choices. Instead of repeatedly blaming them, use a constructive line like, “I recommend you…” Such a line dwells less on blaming or tearing your colleague down; even when they have made a mistake.

I May Be Wrong But…

This statement presents whatever you say after it as not being factual and lacking confidence. When it is an idea, what comes across is that you are suggesting something you do not want to be held accountable for if it flops after implementation. Instead of saying, “I may be wrong but,” you should rather say, “Here’s my idea/thinking…”

I’m Sorry But…

Most things said after this phrase usually ends up being an excuse to defend your actions or to exonerate yourself. It often comes across as a way to brush off your mistakes and move away from it. If you have to apologise for something you said or did to your co-worker, just apologise without trying to justify your action.

I Haven’t Had Time

Time management is an important workplace skill and an absence of it could have you considered as not taking ownership of your tasks. Saying you have not had time to work on something strongly suggests that you need to be micromanaged to be able to get your work done. You should cultivate the habit of communicating your progress. Instead of saying, “I have not had time,” you should say, “I will be able to get this done by…”

Conclusion on Things Not To Say At Work

There are so many things you should not say at work. We have shared some of the common ones in order to stimulate you into finding ways to communicate your thoughts and ideas to your colleagues better.

Can you think of more things that employees should not say at work that we can add to this list? If you can, kindly share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Princewill Akuma
Princewill is marketing maven passionate about user-centric marketing ideas. His marketing experience spans the tech services, recruitment, media and entertainment industry across Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Tanzania. In his pastime, he's a career advisor, mentor, hobbyist DJ and lover of cardio exercise with a personal record of 23.49 km.