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Why you shouldn't use these six common words and phrases in the office, ever again

Aimee Bateman

Careers mentor Aimee Bateman is founder of the website Careercake.com. She tells Stylist about the common but toxic phrases to avoid in the workplace:

Perspective is the key when it comes to analysing the language we use in the workplace.

What we say is said from our perspective. What someone else hears is heard from their perspective.

This is not always the same and we must acknowledge that fact, accept it and come to peace with it. I’ve seen far too many situations in an office environment where someone "took it the wrong way". 

With that in mind, here are six key phrases to avoid at work, in order to communicate with and influence people more effectively:


It’s not my job to do that

Negative, negative, negative. I know employees often get asked to do things that are above and beyond their job description, but nothing positive can come from this statement. If you want to be promoted, you often have to be the role before you get the role.

I’ll try

I avoid this phrase in all areas of my life. People want to know they can rely on you. If you can’t do it, explain why you can’t do it. If you are going to "try" to do it, then just do it.  Don’t leave people hanging.

That’s not how we usually do it

I was at a seminar with a thought leader in the world of recruitment a few years ago and he said something that has stuck in my mind since; "Experience means very little if what you have been doing is wrong". There is always a better way to do something because external commercial factors change constantly. Good employers and colleagues want to see people who are comfortable with change and open to the exploration of new and innovative ideas.


That won’t work

We often hear things that we truly believe won’t work, but it doesn’t foster good relations if we shut people down. The person who gets shut down may never feel comfortable sharing that genius idea later on. I find using "that is interesting, why do you think that?" and then, "I understand, what do you think of this..." as a softer way to bring the conversation back round if you are still convinced a particular idea won’t work.

You may think this is stupid but...

Don’t position an idea as stupid in other peoples' minds before you have even said it. Be confident with your language, even if you don’t feel completely confident in your idea. The moment you position it as stupid, they may well do the same.

I’m sorry (repeatedly)

We all make mistakes at times, me included. In fact, as a successful entrepreneur I have to make mistakes in order to succeed. The danger with over-apologising is that you fail to let the other person move on from the incident. They have to bounce back and move forward, so it’s best to apologise once, sincerely and then focus on getting a "quick win" as soon as possible to reinforce and reposition your value.

Finally, remember to choose words that are motivational, encouraging and empowering when talking to yourself.

That little voice in your head can be your biggest enemy. Don’t tell yourself you are stupid. Don’t tell yourself you can’t do something. Thoughts can become realities and the most important relationship you have is with yourself. With that in mind, be careful what you tell yourself, because you are listening.

A bit more about Aimee Bateman"As a careers coach who has also worked as a commercial recruiter, I have placed talented people into hundreds of jobs over the last decade while also leading high performance teams of my own. Our careers are a huge part of our lives, our identity and our purpose which is why my absolute passion lies in helping people feel seen, heard and valued within the work place." 

Photos: ThinkStock



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