10 career-limiting phrases you should avoid in the workplace

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Do you know that the words we utter determine what others perceive about us? Yes, it is true and perception is an essential parameter for professional success. The words and phrases that we use while having a conversation with others matter a lot both in personal and professional life. In fact, they are pivotal component of persuasive communication.

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In the professional front, there are several instances when we are required to interact with executives, managers, and senior leaders. These momentary interactions can make or break your career. Thus, you should be very much cautious about the words and phrases that you’re using to address others or to express your thoughts in front of them. If you’re using career-limiting phrases then those may jeopardize your image at the workplace and it may even diminish your chances of promotions.

On the other hand, those who use words and phrases that motivate, enthrall and inspire others are the ones that are regarded as leaders. They have the power to make people follow them as they convey credibility and confidence through their words. So be a leader, not a follower and avoid all the phrases that exemplify you as a week individual.

Let’s have a look at some of these phrases that you ought to avoid:

1. I think/ I assume

Consider the two sentences- “I think we’ll have a successful year ahead” and “I know we’ll have a successful year ahead”. The two sentences differ by only one word but that has made a huge difference in the meaning. The first sentence contains a weak word ‘think’ that denotes that the speaker is unsure about what he/she said. On the contrary, the second sentence contains ‘know’ which depicts that the speaker is confident about what he/she is saying and this makes the sentence assertive.

2. No problem

Most of the time when we help others and they thank us, then our instant reply is ‘No problem’. Now, this may sound like a replacement of ‘welcome’ but it conveys an entirely different meaning. It can give a wrong impression that the person who asked for help was a bother for you or it could negate that in other situations it could have been a problem for you. So, it is better to use ‘my pleasure’ or ‘welcome’ in order to sound courteous, considerate and well-mannered.

3. We have always done it that way

Creativity and innovativeness are what is always expected of you on the job front. There might be traditional methods and approaches to doing a certain task. It is obvious that you’re accustomed to them. But, sometimes it is better to bring beneficial changes in the traditional methodologies, operations, and approach for optimization. So, never say no to new approaches by using this phrase as it depicts that you are close-minded and inflexible. Instead, accept the challenge by saying “It is a great idea” or “This is something new so let’s discuss it”.

4. I’ll try

The first rule of professionalism is that you should always motivate others and have confidence in yourself. It’s all about handling every situation efficaciously and doing your job properly. If you’ll use the jargon ‘I’ll try’ then that implies that there are certain chances that the work may not be done. It shows that you are not confident enough regarding that particular work. So, in order to exemplify confidence and to convince others, you should always use ‘I will’. If you think that you won’t be able to do something within the designated deadline, then give more realistic reasons.

5. It’s not fair

Injustice happens not just in the workforce but everywhere around us. However, you can express your opinion or your resentment pertaining to it in a much better way rather than saying ‘It’s not fair’. You shouldn’t be complaining about others or whining, but you should be proactive about it. You should assemble the facts, build a case and present your arguments intelligently in front of the seniors or a person who can help you.

6. It’s not my problem/ I am not paid for this work

Sometimes, we are asked to work on tasks or spheres that are not related to our job responsibility or expertise. Still, declining the task by using these phrases may sound rude and arrogant. Many times, a person of your team, your boss or manager may give you unusual tasks to test your skill or simply because they believe that you can perform that particular work. If you’ll decline it by saying that’s not your job may give an impression that you’re not up for that challenge and may hinder your career advancements.

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Still, if you feel you don’t have the time or resources to perform any task, then you should inform the other person with a better response. You can say ‘I’d love to do this but can someone guide me and give clarifications’ or ‘I am ready to work but can you tell me which task can I put on hold to dedicate time for this task’.

7. “I may be wrong but”

Sometimes while putting your ideas in front of others, you may use these phrases. But, these phrases reduce the impact of the statements that will follow and may even dwindle your credibility. Your words should convey that you’re confident and then only others can value your words. So, you should avoid any such phrases that demean your significance for the company/workplace. Instead, you should give your suggestions or recommendations in an assertive way. So, put forth your ideas by saying “I’d like to recommend”, or “I’d like to suggest that”.

8. It’s not my fault/ You could have

Many times we come under the radar of accusations when something wrong happens in the workforce. Instead of saying “It’s not my fault” to get yourself out of the radar, it is better to explain the whole situation in a professional manner. Furthermore, you cannot put the blame on others also as workplace should involve collaboration. So, stop being judgmental and take a better approach. You should be responsible for your actions and instead of finger-pointing, try to explain the others’ faults in a friendly manner.

9. I’m busy right now/ I don’t have time

Many times, we are loaded with heaps of work and on top of that, if someone asks for a meeting or any work then our usual reply is that ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘I’m busy right now’. These replies are quite true but they can make the other person feel objected and that he/she is less important. So, in order to cultivate good relations with everyone in the workplace, you should handle this situation in an assertive way. You can use phrases like “I’d be delighted to work on this but after this meeting/ work”.

10. It is just a matter of few seconds

Sometimes you need to have a conversation with someone who is too engrossed in his/her work. You want that person to take some time out for you. The most usual phrase that people use in such situation is “It’ll just take seconds”. This statement is never true and it will even convey to the other person that you think your task is important than any other task. It shows that you don’t value others work. So, you should be more considerate in such situations. You can use phrases like “I want to discuss something important so please inform me whenever you’re free”.

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