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5 Phrases to Avoid in the Workplace

Your words matter. Not only that, but they greatly matter when it comes to the workplace—and the phrases you use within it. In fact, writing and communication are more important now than they’ve ever been before. Poor communication also has indirect consequences in the workplace, with 86% of professionals citing “increased stress” as the top cause of poor communication.

Some work settings are formal, some are more relaxed. However, the language you choose when collaborating and interacting with your team can have a great impact on your—and their—day-to-day. There’s no denying that your communication with fellow coworkers is important whether you work in an office or remotely. Here are some phrases to avoid in the workplace if you want to remain professional.

“This may be a stupid idea, but…”

It’s not uncommon to feel vulnerable with your ideas, but phrases such as this one imply that you have little confidence in yourself. Using this qualifier also starts your sentence and idea out with a negative lens. Try cutting out the first phrase to engage with your coworkers more confidently.

“Let me know”

This may be the most common phrase of all time in the workplace—especially when it comes to asking for things. However, it’s not a proactive phrase. Instead of saying “let me know when you want to meet,” you could say “Let’s meet at 3pm. Does that work for you?” This provides that missing action—and makes things more efficient for you and your team.

“It’s the way we’ve always done it”

Take a second and think about this phrase the next time you want to say it aloud. Is there a reason you’re even having to say it? Odds are, the way you (or the company) have always done something isn’t working. Therefore, it’s time for a new way. Phrases such as this one signal your reluctance for change and innovation—two things that are crucial for growth.

“I told you so”

There are a lot of issues with this one, but the main one is that it’s rude and makes you sound immature. It’s also passive-aggressive. Your coworkers are also most likely trying their best and working on something that has the potential of failing. Telling them “I told you so” will just make them feel worse. Instead of saying this phrase, you could offer words of encouragement or another solution.

“That’s not my problem”

Last but not least, you want to avoid saying this phrase within the workplace at all costs. While something may technically not be your problem, the only thing this phrase does is signal that you don’t care. It’s unnecessary and adds negativity to the problem, regardless of whose it is. Try taking responsibility for the tasks and projects you’re in charge of—then act as a leader to the best of your ability without taking on extra work or tasks that don’t fall within your realm. Odds are, there’s a nicer, more mature way of phrasing a similar sentiment.

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