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Three Phrases You Should Never Use at Work

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We don’t insult our coworkers or our boss. We don’t mention certain aspects of our personal lives that could be deemed inappropriate or too much information. However, there are some expressions we’ve built into our work-language that may seem polite but can come across as combative, unsure, or suggest that you are unwilling to be a team player. Here’s a list of some expressions we use in meetings or email that may negatively impact your professional image!

  • “I’m sorry, but…” This doesn’t seem bad, right? You’re apologizing for something, you’re being polite. But starting a work apology this way comes across as insincere. You’re setting yourself up to make excuses for something you did incorrectly in order to defend your position. It’s not a true apology and you’re not acknowledging that you recognize your mistake. Next time you need to apologize at work, try “I’m sorry about that. Next time I will….” followed by what actions you’d take to fix the issue in the future. This not only shows that you are willing to own your mistakes, but that you want to take the steps to correct them. No excuses!
  • “But we’ve always done it that way!” Here’s another bad habit phrase we all use in the workplace. What’s wrong with this sentence? You’re just saying that you want to follow policy, that you’re sticking to the rules as you know them. But this is another sentence that can appear defensive. Saying this makes you seem inflexible and unwilling to change. You certainly shouldn’t break company policy, but instead of defending the habits that have become ingrained in our day-to-day try asking the person to tell you why they’re way may be better. Not only does this show you’re open to discussion, it shows your coworkers and bosses that you respect them and are willing to change with good reason.
  • “I just assumed that…” Nothing seems wrong with this at first. You’re saying that you have always thought a certain policy or thing was a certain way. But where did you learn that information? We can all recall that famous cliche of “when you assume…” This phrase, that you assumed something was true, is another sentence that not only makes you appear defensive, but it shows that you may lack real knowledge of your company. Instead of defending your actions afterward, ask for clarification when you make a mistake. We can often read or misunderstand others, especially when we’re new on the job and are overloaded with information during the onboarding process. Side benefit, asking for information can make you appear thoughtful and considerate to your boss.

Mistakes will happen. We’re only human. But when you make a mistake at work, responding in a thoughtful, professional, and considerate manner will only help you advance in your career!

Categories: Career Planning
Tags: careers;

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