15 phrases Never to Use at Work

According to Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of California, your words, your verbal message, counts for only seven per cent of your face to face communication. The rest of your message, is 55 per cent visual and 38 per cent vocal. This is also known as the theory of the three Vs of in person communication.

Shocking? Isn't it? But think about it. Look and listen. It is totally true. It is not what you say. It is how you say it. 

Even if your words are the least of the three elements of in-person communication, they should still be carefully chosen. They have the power to clarify, inform, educate, inspire and motivate.

Soft or strong, all your words are heard and could go directly into your boss's ears.

Communicate correctly with confidence and credibility, in a positive way, by avoiding the following phrases:

1. "It's not my job"

If you are requested to do something that is out of your job description, it is probably because the other person believes that you can perform the task. They most certainly trust you to do it. And, it most certainly is important to them. If your immediate supervisor asks you to do something, do it. It is your job. Obviously, there are extraordinary, exceptional circumstances, and sometimes unfortunately, even abuse. I will enlighten you in another post or if you are going through a "sticky situation", write to me julie@etiquettejulie.com. If you do not have the time, the resources or the skills, let it be known. "I can do this, but I need some clarification or is there someone that can guide me?" 

2. "It's not fair"

Bill Gates said it and your parents too: life is not fair. We all have to cope with it. If there is a serious injustice, assemble the facts, make an appointment and present them at the appropriate time.

3. "I think that ..."

Everyone thinks and hopefully you do too ;-). But we want you to analyze, reflect and present new ideas. This beginning is not very persuasive. Replace it with words of conviction: "I believe ...", "I am certain", "I trust"

4. "I will try to ..."

Ooh la la, when I hear this sentence, right away, I lose confidence. It implies that there is the possibility that whatever I am requesting, may not be done. In lieu, use "I will ..." and my confidence in you will instantly return. If you think you are unable to do it within the timeline, say so and present a more realistic option.

5. "Maybe it's stupid, but ..."

By saying that it's stupid, you just minimize your own words. You are thus sowing doubt. Others may think "If it's stupid, maybe he's stupid ...?" "Remove this preface. State your ideas clearly and confidently. "I have a suggestion... ""Have you ever thought about it this way..."

6. "I do not have time to talk right now"

If the phone rings and you are not capable of talking, do not take the call! Let your voicemail do its job. When cross someone, tell them you are in a hurry and offer to make an appointment later.

7. "To be honest with you" or "To tell you the truth"

Automatically the other thinks "What? The other times you were lying to me? "You don't keep me in the loop?" "What else don't I know about?" Remove these phrases and remove doubts about your honesty and transparency.

8. "Always" or "Never"

Absolutes are rare. Insisting with such an assertion could put you in an embarrassing situation in the future.

9. "Impossible" or "It can't be done"

Nobody likes a negative and pessimistic attitude. If you are asked, it is because they believe it is possible and they believe in you. Explore solutions. Find out about resources. Ask for time to reflect. "I'll validate the options and I'll get back to you. "

10. "It's just a joke!"

If you must add these words, it's probably that you perceived a discomfort and that the other did not understand your humor. Perhaps it would be better to apologize for your insensitivity ...

11. "I just want to know" or "I just want to say"

These words are superfluous. They denote your hesitation and even a lack of confidence. Avoid them. Be direct. Go for it! Ask your question clearly. Say what you mean.

12. "Maybe", "It depends"

When you are asked a question, a clear answer is expected. Generally, you must be able to say "Yes", "No" or present options without hesitation. At least, you should be able to ask questions to ultimately prepare an answer. If you need additional information, ask for clarification. If it's a matter of time, add these details.

13. "$ # @% ?! "

Cursing at work will minimize your credibility and reduce your chances of advancement. It's a fact.

14. "WOW! Fan-tas-tic!": all day long

If everything is great, nothing is. Isn't it? In the long run, it could get annoying for some of your colleagues.

15. "No Problem"

Allow me to refresh your memory with this previous post.

I hear you, "It's easier to write than to do." Agreed dear reader.

Begin by observing others, their words and the reactions they arouse. What works well or not, in meetings, conversations, negotiations and presentations. Note what is positive and substitute what would have been more appropriate. Then incorporate your own recommendations and the ones above from this post. In a short time, you will communicate in a positive way, to broadcast confidence and credibility.

As published in the Huffinton post on November 25th, 2016, Julie Blais Comeau (c).