10 Things Never To Say at Work

  | 5 min read
10 things never to say in the worplace

We spend so much time in the workplace, and sometimes it is easy to let your guard down and throw etiquette out of the window. While having friends in the workplace is okay, you have to be extra careful what you say doesn’t rub people the wrong way. Here are some career-ending things you should never say at work. 

  1. That is not my job

    this is not my job

Sometimes you are told to do something that is completely not related to what your job description states as your tasks. This may make you feel like you are being forced to do someone else’s job and say “That is not my job.” While this might be true, it may show that you are not a team player, something you don’t want your boss thinking. Instead, just agree to do it. “I’m not sure I have handled that kind of data before but I will take a look.” It shows your versatility and could boost your career opportunities in levels you had not imagined before.

2. I think that…

While it is okay to present your matters on concepts and ideas in the workplace, it is mostly about how you say things than what you say. There are certain phrases that show a lack of confidence or a need for validation. For people to take what you say seriously, they need to feel that you are confident in your ideas. Try a phrase like “I believe that…” instead.

3. We always do it this way

we always do it this way

While this could be true, the context might be construed and people might think that you are rigid and change-resistant. the truth is that with change comes progress and you have to show you are open to positive change around you. If you are hesitant about a new way of doing things, maybe ask “Could you elaborate the benefits of this new method more?” This sounds more open.

4. Who do you have to sleep with to get ‘abc’?

This is a line that could get you into a boardroom with very stern-looking HR officials in your company. First, it borders highly on sexual harassment and also signifies that there is a possibility pf bartering favors in that company. While this statement is mostly said on a light note, the person you say it to or the context you say it in might get you into trouble. To be safe, just don’t say it. Also, there is no better way of saying it.

5. It is not fair

it is not fair

This statement always sounds whinny no matter where it’s said. The workplace is the last place you should say something is not fair. Sometimes things in the workplace may not go according to what you see as in order. Whining about it is not the way forward. It makes you look immature and unprofessional. Instead, tackle issues professionally and tactfully. Ask your boss for a sit-down and lay out the issues based on provable facts and not emotions.

6. This will only take a bit

This statement assumes the person, whose tasks you are interrupting is automatically willing to drop what they are doing and hear what you have to say. It is also somewhat rude. Everyone in the workplace has a list of things to do and if you would like someone to help you with something your approach should be courteous. Something like, “I would like to pick your brain on something. Let me know if you have five minutes.”

7. I can’t stand my boss

things never to say-i cant stand my boss

This is one of those things you should never say in the workplace. First, because it is gossip in some way and two because it shows extremely negative feelings against the person who adds up your quarterly score card. Plus these things have a way of going round in the workplace and reaching the subject. Imagine how awkward your interactions with your boss are going to be. You might even lose your job. Instead, ask something like, “You and your boss seem to get along very well, how do you do it?”

Also, look inward. Could the strain in your relationship with your boss be your fault? Are you doing everything right?

8. I’ll try

The problem with the phrase ‘I’ll try’ is it shows lack of commitment. You may do it or not. It could also come off as passive-aggressive and implying that the task given is beyond you, but well, you’ll try. Instead of leaving doubts in the person giving you the task, say something like, “I have not done this task before, but I will enlist some help from Tom in operations and get it done.”

9. I’m Sorry

Apologies are mostly emotional. The workplace is purely professional. Now there are those instances when you should sorry, of course. When you accidentally step on someone, when you interrupt someone in a meeting etc. However, when it comes to tasks there is nothing emotional about it. If a mistake is pointed out, instead of saying ‘I’m sorry,” you can say, “Thanks for bringing this up. On it.” or “I understand this was wrong, it will not happen again in future.”

10. All personal, uncomfortable things

things never to say- personal questions

Most of the personal things colleagues in the workplace say to each other range from seemingly light-hearted things like, “You look really nice today, are you going for an interview?” to outright uncomfortable things like, “Are you pregnant?”

While it is unnatural not to have such kinds of conversations, the key here is context and the person you are talking to. How close are you? Is this something you usually do to each other? Some personal things, however, are completely out of question even outside the workplace.

Doreen Mueke
Doreen is the Senior Content Marketer at Ringier One Africa Media.