Saying the wrong thing never feels great – but at work, it can be truly horrible. Working life is made up of lots of crucial relationships built on shared values, goals and attitudes. Your ability to enjoy what you do and be successful depends a great deal on your personal rapport with others – and clear expectations and trust around each other’s roles and responsibilities. A phrase that slips out of your mouth in the heat of the moment or when you haven’t had time to think can undermine all of this in seconds.

The workplace can be a minefield of office politics, stress and complicated relationships. One way you can make your time in the office easier is by knowing what not to say.

1) That’s not my problem

WHY NOT TO SAY IT:

We’ve all heard it before and when you’re juggling a lot of things, it’s easy to dismiss things that aren’t “your problem”. Unfortunately, you can potentially appear self-serving and not a team player.

WHAT TO SAY INSTEAD:

I recommend you talk to… (insert name)


2) But we’ve always done it that way

WHY NOT TO SAY IT:

People can be scared of change and while there is value in experience, it’s not always a legitimate excuse. It can make you appear inflexible and “stuck in your ways”

WHAT TO SAY INSTEAD:

That’s a different approach – can you tell me why it is better?


3) There’s nothing I can do

WHY NOT TO SAY IT:

Sometimes it really does feel there’s nothing else we can do, especially if we’ve exhausted all possibilities. Adopting a “can-do” attitude would go much further than admitting defeat.

WHAT TO SAY INSTEAD:

I’m a bit stuck, can you help me find any other options?


4) This will only take a minute

WHY NOT TO SAY IT:

Things rarely do take a minute, but when you have that demanding colleague you want to reassure them, and yourself. However there is no value in something rushed.

WHAT TO SAY INSTEAD:

Let me get back to you on a timeframe.


5) That makes no sense

WHY NOT TO SAY IT:

We all get confused, but rather than jump to conclusions it could be that you simply don’t understand. Instead of appearing negative, try to recognize what the other person is saying,

WHAT TO SAY INSTEAD:

I’m not sure about that one — can you tell me why it is a better option?



6) You’re wrong

WHY NOT TO SAY IT:

This can slip out before we realize; the trouble is you’re verging trampling on office etiquette and could rile some people up. Try a more diplomatic approach.

WHAT TO SAY INSTEAD:

I disagree and here’s why… what do you think?


7) I’m sorry, but…

WHY NOT TO SAY IT:

We rarely think when we say sorry, and it’s often followed by an excuse. This undoes the power of a true apology.

WHAT TO SAY INSTEAD:

I’m sorry about that…next time I will…


8) I just assumed that…

WHY NOT TO SAY IT:

Mistakes are easy to make and can simply come from miscommunication. Nevertheless, it’s much better to not express assumption and clarify what it is you need to do.

WHAT TO SAY INSTEAD:

Could you clarify what your expectations are for me?


9) I did my Best

WHY NOT TO SAY IT:

Since school we’ve always been taught to try our best. But when your best isn’t good enough, use it as a lesson you can learn from.

WHAT TO SAY INSTEAD:

What could I do better next time?


10) You should have…

WHY NOT TO SAY IT:

Pointing out mistakes when you’re frustrated is all too easy to do, but blaming someone and finding fault with them or their work isn’t the best approach. Try to be more constructive.

WHAT TO SAY INSTEAD:

It didn’t work — here’s what I recommend next time…


11) “I may be wrong, but …”

WHY NOT TO SAY IT:

You have an idea but lack confidence and worried others might dismiss what you have to say. Avoid discounting yourself and tell people what you think.

WHAT TO SAY INSTEAD:

Here’s an idea…


12) I haven’t had time

WHY NOT TO SAY IT:

There are never enough hours in the day, and conflicting priorities occur far too often. It’s better to be proactive and say when the task will be done, rather than explaining why it is late.

WHAT TO SAY INSTEAD:

I will be able to get this done by…


And if you have said something you regret, here are three steps to quickly recover…

1) APOLOGIZE: Be sincere for any upset or confusion you might have caused.

2) STATE WHAT YOU DIDN’T MEAN: Admit your error, explain what you did not intend to do or say.

3) SAY WHAT YOU ACTUALLY MEANT: Explain what you really intended to say or do.

Hopefully now you will have the confidence to go into work and speak your mind – without saying the wrong thing!

Source: Headway Capital. Refer Infographic below.



Courtesy of: Headway Capital