If you work in a friendly, relaxed work environment, you may not give a lot of thought to what you say or how you express your feelings. But according to author Judith Humphrey, you should. Humphrey believes that in the office, you always need to be polite and professional. This means that you need to avoid saying certain words or phrases that could send the wrong message to your managers and coworkers.

Here are words and phrases and Humphrey thinks you should avoid (and what you could say instead):

“Whatever” (as well as “sure” and “fine”)

  • Why you should avoid it – The word “whatever” is innately snarky. You’re basically saying that you’ll go along with the other person, but you think that what they’re doing is a mistake. The words “sure” or “fine” can also sound curt and annoyed when they’re said in an angry tone.  
  • What to say instead – “That sounds like a good idea. Let’s move forward with it.”

“It is what it is”

  • Why you should avoid it – This phrase shuts people down. You’re saying that the situation is not going to change, so you don’t want to hear any feedback.
  • What to say instead – “This is the situation we’re in. Does anyone have any ideas about how we can change it?”

“I’m pissed off”

  • Why you should avoid it – Expressing anger at the office is usually a bad idea. It can make your clients and coworkers feel uncomfortable, and they may avoid interacting with you in the future.
  • What to say instead – Nothing. Unless you’re talking to a trusted coworker, you should probably keep your angry feelings to yourself.

“I can’t”

  • Why you should avoid it – Even though there are certainly going to be times when you can’t do what a manager or client is asking you to do, you should still try to avoid using the words “I can’t.” It might make you sound ineffective or like you’re being difficult.
  • What to say instead – Instead of saying what you can’t do, shift the focus to what you can do. If a manager asks you to write a report by Monday, you could say “I can send you a detailed outline on Monday – and I’ll have the finished report ready for you by Wednesday.”

Humphrey, J. (2017, July 23). Six words and phrases that make everyone hate working with you. Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/40441775/six-words-and-phrases-that-make-everyone-hate-working-with-you