Everyone makes mistakes and every now and then, we say things that we later regret blurting out. But doing so at work can potentially be detrimental to your career path. Certain phrases and sayings can give your coworkers – or worse, your employers – the wrong idea about you. That’s why it’s important to think carefully and consider how your phrasing might come off to others in the office.
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1. “I Have a Stupid Question”
Undermining your own intelligence or being overly passive to the point of seeming less credible isn’t a good idea. Suggesting that you lack confidence can cause your coworkers or employers to lose confidence in you. If you are really unsure and embarrassed, you can try looking up the answer on your own or asking your immediate supervisor in private.
2. Something Excessively Negative
Complaining, giving up and cursing (even if your office allows obscenity) can all keep you from being taken seriously. It’s best to be remembered for saying positive, team-centered things that inspire those around you. You don’t want to drag down morale or say something that could potentially get you fired.
3. “Got a Sec?”
It’s a good idea to avoid interrupting people. If someone is on their lunch break, attending a meeting or socializing with another coworker, contacting them through email or your company’s messaging system is probably the better approach.
4. A Piece of Gossip About a Co-Worker
It’s best to only talk about the people in your office the way you would want them to talk about you. Being malicious and talking behind someone’s back can make you look less professional and make others feel uncomfortable around you. At the same time, revealing too much about your own personal life can also get you into some serious trouble at work.
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5. “You Should Have…”
One thing arguably worse than gossiping is blaming a coworker. Think about how you would feel if someone called you out in front of other co-workers or even in a personal email about not pulling your weight. It’s important to always provide feedback in a constructive, non-judgmental way instead of pointing fingers.
6. Something Negative About a New Policy
Change can be difficult to adapt to. But just because a new policy or proposal is different from the way things are normally done at your office doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a chance. It’s always best to be open to new solutions that could potentially serve as learning opportunities.
7. “There’s Nothing I Can Do”
Offering to do more than what’s expected of you can help you get ahead at work. What you probably don’t want to do is sit around waiting for instructions. Instead of staring into space, you can offer to check over a project, help someone else or look for something new to begin working on. This will show that you can take initiative and add value to your team.
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8. An Excuse
From “It’s not fair” to “That’s not my job,” there are many ways to justify why you shouldn’t be in charge of something outside your list of duties. Stepping up to show that you’re a team player who’s willing to go the extra mile can work in your favor. After all, everyone is responsible for the work your company puts out and you want to be proud of the part you played in producing it.
9. “Does That Make Sense?”
Similar to saying “just” or “sorry, but…,” this expression can make you sound weak. It’s important to be confident when you present your ideas. That way, you don’t undermine your own efforts or set yourself back.
10. Something Related to Money or a Second Job
Sometimes it’s tempting to let something about your financial situation slip out at work. Instead of talking to your coworkers, it might be a good idea to find a trusted source outside the office who you can talk to about updating your resume or snagging a larger salary to boost your budget.
If you aren’t sure about what’s appropriate to discuss at your office, you can ask a co-worker you trust. The phrases we’ve listed may seem trivial or silly, but they can affect how you come off in a professional context. Listening to how others speak and being mindful of the things you say can help you avoid an awkward encounter with another employee.
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