Phrases You Should Avoid While in a Business Environment


The way you present yourself in the workplace lets others know how to treat you. Sometimes subtle, offhand comments can change the way others perceive your work. Even the most talented employees can be their own worst enemy when they commit these workplace faux pas.

How to Be Tactful

Isaac Newton once said, “Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.” Being tactful is just that — having the ability to clearly communicate your message while being sensitive to those around you and not unintentionally offending anyone. Being tactful does not mean hiding what you really feel; it just means presenting your ideas in a way that would make them the most appealing and inoffensive.

“I don’t know.”
There are often times when you honestly do not know the answer, but you need to reassure coworkers or clients that you’re capable of gathering information. Instead try saying, “Let me research that and get back to you,” or, “Let’s find an answer to that.”

“I just wanted to say…”
This makes it sound as if you are unsure whether you’re allowed to voice your opinion. There’s no need to announce your ideas. Cut this qualifier out of your statement and speak your idea.

“This may be a dumb question…”
Don’t associate yourself or your ideas with the word “dumb.” That’s a surefire way to hurt your own credibility. As above, strike this statement from your vocabulary.

“That’s not my job.”
This statement will quickly establish that you aren’t a team player. Assuming there is no ethical or professional conflict, complete the task enthusiastically and without comment.

“That’s not fair.”
Whining is not an effective strategy for solving workplace problems. If you are unsatisfied with your pay or not receiving the assignments you want, speak to your manager. Calmly explain why you believe you have earned what you want.

“I deserve…”
Complaining about what you “deserve” sounds entitled and dismisses your achievements. Hopefully your hard work will show for itself and you will be rewarded appropriately. If you feel you are being mistreated or under appreciated, consider speaking to your manager or finding another job.

“When do you need it by?”
This one can be tricky. It sounds like a solid follow-up question, but if no due date was give it could lead to an arbitrary deadline and confusion. Plus, it allows the other person to dictate your schedule. Offer a time when it can be ready, and ask if that will work.

“This is the way it’s always been done.”
This statement is the enemy of progress. It sounds like an excuse for not updating processes, or for failure to keep up with changing technology. Odds are if you’re making this statement, it’s a defense for why something isn’t working.

by Christine Kelly

CEO and Queen Bee | Viral Solutions LLC

Copyright 2015 Viral Solutions LLC

Prior to joining Viral Solutions, Christine held executive leadership roles at some of the largest small business consulting firms in the USA. Her experience includes leading direct reports of over 130 remote sales agents who generated $38mm in annual revenue. She obtained her Marketing degree from British Columbia Institute of Technology. Bring her C-Suite experience to your small business. Although our company is virtual, and we can work with you wherever you are located, she is located in Denver, Colorado and owns a second home in Vancouver, BC Canada.

Viral Solutions LLC is a Digital Marketer Certified Partner and an Infusionsoft Certified Consultant.

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