Words are powerful and can not be retrieved once spoken. They also have a way of defining our personalities, values and principles. That is why smart people use words sparingly and also chose the words and phrases that best portrays their message to give the desired response. There are some words you wouldn’t want to say in public or around certain people because you don’t know how they will interpret it.
These phrases carry special power and have the ability to make you look bad even when the words are true. No matter how talented you are or what you’ve accomplished, there are certain phrases that instantly change the way people see you and can forever cast you in a negative light. These phrases are so loaded with negative implications that they undermine careers in short order – only the wise fail to use these phrases.
1. “It’s Not Fair”
Everyone knows that life isn’t fair. Saying “it’s not fair” suggests that you think life is supposed to be fair, which makes you look immature and naive. If you don’t want to make yourself look bad, you need to stick to the facts, stay constructive, and leave your interpretation out of it. For instance, you could say, “I noticed that you assigned that project I was hoping for to Jeff. Would you mind telling me what went into that decision? I’d like to know why you thought I wasn’t a good fit, so that I can work on improving those skills.” Something like that sounds way better than the former.
2. “This Is The Way It’s Always Been Done”
Who says that in this modern age of rapid change? Only fools I guess. Technology-fueled change is happening so fast that even a three-month-old process could be outdated. Saying “this is the way it’s always been done” not only makes you sound lazy but archaic. The fact that you are used to a particular process doesn’t mean that’s the only way in the world to get that thing done. An alternative route could lead to a better destination.
3. “No Problem”
When someone asks you to do something or thanks you for doing something, and you respond with “No problem,” you’re implying that his or her request should have been a problem. This makes people feel as though they’ve imposed their opinion or request on you. You can replace that phrase with something better like “it was my pleasure,” or “I’ll be happy to take care of that.” It’s a subtle difference in language structure, but its impact on the recipient is more than you can imagine.
4. “I Think / This May Be A Silly Idea / I’m Going To Ask A Stupid Question”
Using passive phrases like this instantly writes off your credibility. Anything that comes after these phrases may not be given as much attention as it deserves. Smart people speak with confidence and do not condemn their ideas in public. If you’re not confident in what you’re saying, no one else will be either. If you are asked a question that you ain’t sure of the answer just, say, “I don’t have that information right now, but I’ll find out and get right back to you.”
5. “This Will Only Take A Minute”
It most times takes more than 5 minutes so why use unpredictable words to deceive people? Saying that something only takes a minute undermines your skills and gives the impression that you rush through tasks. Feel free to say that it won’t take long, but don’t make it sound as though the task can be completed any sooner than it actually can be, even if you are sure it will only take a minute – value your worth.
6. “I’ll Try”
Just like the word think, ‘try’ sounds tentative and suggests that you lack confidence in your ability to execute the task. Take full ownership of your capabilities. If you’re asked to do something, either commit to doing it or offer an alternative, but don’t say that you’ll try, because it will sound as if you are not sure of the outcome though. Why not say ‘I will do my best/part’ instead.
7. “I Can’t”
If you find this phrase in your vocabulary, kindly replace it with the positive ‘I can.’ People don’t like to hear ‘I can’t’ because they think it means I won’t. Saying I can’t suggests that you’re not willing to do what it takes to get the job done. If you really can’t do something because you truly lack the necessary skills, you need to offer an alternative solution. Instead of saying what you can’t do, say what you can do. For example, instead of saying “I can’t stay late tonight,” say “I can come in early tomorrow morning. Will that work?” Instead of saying “I can’t run those numbers,” say “I don’t yet know how to run that type of analysis. Is there someone who can show me so that I can do it on my own next time?”
8. “That’s Not In My Job Description”
This phrase makes you sound like you are only willing to work only that which you signed up for, and no employer will be happy to hear that. If your boss asks you to do something that you feel is inappropriate for your position, the best move is to complete the task eagerly then later schedule a conversation with your boss to discuss your role in the company and whether your job description needs an update. This ensures that you avoid looking petty. It also enables you and your boss to develop a long-term understanding of what you should and shouldn’t be doing.
9. “It’s Not My Fault”
Casting blame to other people has never been a good idea from the onset. If it’s not your fault, whose is it? Someone has to take responsibility for a failed deal, and be accountable for the loss. No matter how small the role you played is, own up and share in the blame, rather than wash your hands off it. The moment you start pointing fingers, people start seeing you as someone who lacks accountability for his or her actions.
10. “He’s Lazy/Incompetent/A Jerk”
If you do not have anything good to say about a person, say nothing. It is usually not nice to give bad reports about a colleague at work, even when they are at fault. If your remark is accurate, everybody already knows it, so there’s no need to point it out because that might just end up making you look like the jerk.
11. “I Hate This Job”
70% of people hate their jobs and their boss but are still on it. This shows that what you like is not always what you get. The last thing anyone wants to hear at work is people complaining about how much they hate their job. Doing so labels you as a negative person and brings down the morale of the group.
This word has a way of shutting down everything when voiced down. It limits you scope and makes you believe there is no way out. Rather than say this word the way it, just say it without the first two initials.
In summary, saying the most appropriate words/phrases instead of the above will give you the opportunity to eliminate negativity from your vocabulary and also it will boast your confidence level as well. Do well to imbibe them as your new way of talking. Think smart, talk intelligent.