What Not to Say at Work

1 May

Being at work is far different than hanging out with friends casually on the weekend. In an atmosphere of professionals, everything doesn’t go—nor should it. But it’s not always obvious which things are appropriate to say and which aren’t. Of course, everyone knows the big no-no’s, like swearing and using offensive language. But there are several subtleties that should be noted as well.

I've got a bag of SHH! with your name on it.

Sometimes we all need a Dr. Evil to remind us when to stop talking.

Blame is something that will only cause problems. Pointing the finger at others and saying, “It’s all your fault!” won’t solve anything and just makes you look like you’re insecure and irresponsible. And besides the fact that it’s childish, it will also put you farther than ever from fostering healthy business relationships.

But it goes both ways. Bringing all the blame on yourself isn’t a good thing to do, either. Apologize for things you truly are responsible for, but then move on. Change the focus to fixing the problem if you can and don’t dwell. Make your value known.

Work—and life, for that matter—isn’t always fair. But saying “That’s not fair,” won’t change that. If you are truly concerned about a matter of fairness that you believe could be remedied, find a way to say it that doesn’t sound so childish and whiny. Back yourself up with facts and suggestions for improvement.

Along the lines of what’s fair and what isn’t, perhaps one of the worst things you can say (especially to your boss) is the phrase, “That’s not my job.” Setting aside the fact that it makes you look stubborn and lazy, it can also put up some serious red flags as far as promotion is concerned. The people who care most about a company’s success, going above and beyond their “job,” are the ones who move up in the world. If you feel like you may not be the best person for the task being assigned, instead inquire what the expectations are and legitimately determine whether it’s something you could carry out.

Lastly, don’t gossip. Work environments that are full of politics and gossip are among the most toxic, and contributing to that can really add unnecessary stress and frustration to daily work life. Remember, you see these people for at least forty hours a week—so you really don’t want to say something you’ll regret.


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