While it might be true that more organisations are advocating a culture of open communication, there are still a handful of phrases which might be doing you more harm than good.
Being aware of the words you’re saying in the office, as well as the messages they are conveying, can make the difference between destroying workplace relations and empowering your team.
Here are eight phrases you should think about removing from your office vocabulary.
1. “This isn’t my job”
Sure, it may not be your responsibility to oversee a report or even refill the coffee machine, but taking on that extra bit of work goes a long way in showing you are a team player. However, if the job you’re being asked to do is unreasonable or coming in at a bad time, craft your response so that it is tactful and respectful.
Rather than saying “That’s not my problem” try something along the lines of, “I’d be happy to help but it might have to wait a while until I finish this task at hand”.
2. “With all due respect”
This is one of the most passive aggressive phrases in the office vocabulary, and operates almost exclusively as a disclaimer before you unleash a potentially rude or disrespectful remark. If you do need to give negative feedback to someone, do so sincerely and to the point. After all, honesty is often appreciated, especially if the recipient understands your intentions were good.
3. “I’m busy, can this wait?”
Not only does this immediately come off as rude, you are clearly telling the other party they are not worthy of your time and attention. Instead of blowing them off, take a minute to listen to their request, and politely reschedule a later time when it is more convenient for the both of you revisit the topic.
4. “I don’t like her”
We may have found research that suggests gossip can be good for workplace relationships, but that doesn’t mean you’re free to speak ill of your colleagues – or even worse, bosses. If you really find someone on your team intolerable, bring up the issue with your manager or HR leader in confidence. Avoid speaking to colleagues and further spinning the rumour mills – it’s only going to paint you as the bad guy.
This goes without saying but vulgarities are rarely – if ever – accepted in the workplace. However, if you do find it a struggle to avoid dropping the occasional f-bomb in the office, make sure you’re not doing it in the presence of your clients, customers or bosses.
6. “I may be wrong, but…”
You may have the best idea in the room, but starting a statement off with “This might sound stupid, but…” will immediately do you a disservice. Confidence can go a long way in helping your voice be heard in a discussion, so don’t be afraid to contribute to the discussion. Your idea may not make the cut at the end of the day, but at least your team will know you’re someone who isn’t afraid to be a part of the brainstorming process.
7. “He was disposable anyway”
A member of your team may have been removed due to a lack of competencies, but dismissing them as “replaceable” might make the rest of your team also believe they are not a valued asset. Sometimes, when you have nothing nice to say, it might be wise to just keep quiet.
8. “But we’ve always done it this way”
Being stubborn and resistance to change could be the biggest obstacle standing in the way of your team’s success. After all, change is the only constant, and in today’s dynamic and fast moving business landscape, it may not be a bad idea to hear out a colleague or manager’s suggestion on how to improve legacy business processes.
Human Resources magazine and the HR Bulletin daily email newsletter:
Asia's only regional HR print and digital media brand.
Register for your FREE subscription now »